The Text      

The Dingo Runners have been lurking around the streets of Alice for some years now.
At times they have cantered in the shadow of the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club activities. Under the umbrella of Anzac hill High School or Alice Springs High they have lined up in inter-school championships, and as with the dingo's habit, often they have padded the tracks around town in small packs or even alone.
The Dingo Runners are school children from the Alice who find enjoyment in regularly pounding the pavements in the pursuit of fitness.
They have been staunchly encouraged by Loie Sharp over the years to develop their potential as fit competitors in whatever sport they pursue.
By building up the cardio-respiratory system the trained runner presents in sport at a distinct advantage over the athlete relying purely on natural talent.
In terms of local success Donna Lee Patrick who is now playing for Australia in Women's Hockey, developed in her teenage years a sound fitness base under coach Daryl Brierly. When entering the elite level of her sport, she presented with a high range of specific skills and a body that was fit enough to handle the rigours of top line competition. Running the playing fields of Alice Springs today are a myriad of potential Cathy Freemans or Steve Monaghettis who could rise to the top by applying themselves to opportunities in their teenage years.
With the four-week break from school books and chalk dust, local teenagers have the chance in the next month to further their learning in areas well beyond the classroom. The Dingo Running program is one such opportunity.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the holiday break, youngsters in town, regardless of skill level, are welcome to join the Dingo Runners. Activities begin from Anzac Oval at 9am on each occasion. Organisers are wary of the high impact dangers associated with training and so have devised a program that will minimise the effects of over-training.
After an initial time trial, the Dingoes will undertake hill work at Anzac Hill; sand training in the Todd; speed work on the Oval; and time trials on the YMCA road loop.
However the training will not be all slog, with fitness games built into the program to break up the sessions into enjoyable activities. Dingoes specifically benefiting from the program will be our NT Cross Country squad members. This year there has been a revival in cross country running in The Centre.
A decade ago the infamous "Catweasle" and Chris Wellington had cross country athletics on a high in town with literally hundreds of families, friends and neighbours turning out to the Telegraph Station to compete.
These days the Wellington influence is Top End based, but at the recent regional Cross Country Championships a new interest was generated in the sport. Heading the enthusiasts are the Schmidt family. Mum, Chris, runs with the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club and it seems each of her offspring are already in the running groove.
Emmalynne, Annrielle and Johnathon have each qualified in their age groups to represent the Territory in the National Championships in August in Sydney.
Kenny Parsons, who has tried a range of sports including boxing will be there; as will Sam Page, Jack Brown, Josh Burgoyne and Chris Bird.
These athletes are only a few of the huge band, from all schools, who made the Desert Storm Cross Country a success last month.
Showing they have what is needed in endurance running are Rainer Chlanda, Ben Fisher, Jordan Winstanley, Abby Lauritsen and Tom Scollay. Meanwhile, the intergenerational Alice Springs Triathlon Club is also making waves around town.
Although still in the hibernation season, on Sunday the Club will hold its AGM at the Telegraph Station from 3pm.
This year already several new comers to town have put their hand up, declaring themselves to be true believers in the multi-disciplined pain process.
Peter and Colleen Gwynn will strengthen the top level of the club's competition.
And in the Senior Women's division the flying tooth extractor B.A. Kerslake is likely to get some real professional advice from the newly arrived good doctor Kylie Lucas, as they mount a campaign on the seasoned performer Loie Sharp.
Tavis Johannsen and Tim Pearson have paved the way for Alice Triathletes by completing the National Iron Man event, and with the Manchester Commonwealth Games Triathlon promising to be a great promotion for the sport, the coming year looks like being a real corker.


The Central Australian Football League on the weekend played host to the Northern Territory Thunder, "our" Under 18 representative side in the AFL.
The local side ran out winners, 9.10 (64) to the Thunder's 7.11 (53), but underlying the game there were more pertinent messages for both combatants.
In the first term Sherman Spencer, a Country League star, set the CAFL on fire with two goals.
As expected Graeme Smith was the steady force who commanded play from the knockout, and ultimately allowed Spencer the chance to receive and capitalise.
In opposition Matthew Stokes from the Darwin Magpies proved his worth with a countering goal. By the break the CAFL held a slender 2.4 to 1.3 lead.
The tight encounter continued in the second term with Simon Munkara from the Tiwi Islands scoring to level the card early and while Spencer flashed in with a reply for the Centralians, Shannon Masters and then Tom Logan replied for the Thunder.
At the major break the Thunder rested 4.6 to 3.6, but the Centralian camp were faced with a further problem in that trump card Smith was sidelined with a leg injury.
As with life, adversity can create opportunity, and coach Roy Arbon wasted no time in switching Trevor Dhu out of the goal square and into a creative role in the engine room.
This move proved to be a winner, as Dhu's experience in backline play and ability to aggressively enter packs gave the Centralians a real firing line.
By three quarter time the score was locked up at 7.8 (50 ) to each side. Spencer was responsible for three of the locals' goals in the quarter while Laughlan Ross jagged the fourth.
In the Thunder response, it was Raphael Clarke and Ryan Mallard who contributed with goals.
The run home was expected to be in the favour of young legs, but it was the physical strength of the CAFL that left the Thunder wanting. Craig Turner scored a pearler early in the term and minutes later Spencer slipped in to score his seventh for the day to have the fat lady moisten her vocal chords. The Thunder had plenty of chances to respond, but missed often and on occasions put the ball out on the full. Maybe the pressure affected their play! The CAFL triumphed.
Best for the Centralians were Spencer, Berrington, Dhu and Turner. For the Thunder, Stokes, Jarrad Breenan, Clarke and Mukara put in.
For the CAFL fans at the game it was no doubt an eye opener to see the Thunder machine in action. Some 120 bags were unloaded from the plane on their arrival, and the size of their entourage was somewhat a shock to the system.
Maybe it was a case of the big time versus the bush in the year 2002! One couldn't help, however, be further reminded of how much AFL has seemingly dissociated itself from its grass roots support.
While the CAFL recorded the win and will continue their season this week, the Thunder move on to southern climes. The hit out with the Centralians will bolster their confidence, especially when facing a more physical foe.
This week Central Australian football returns to the minor round series with two games scheduled. West will take on Rovers. This promises to be a close game.
Rovers received a real confidence booster a fortnight ago when they outran the Federal side to win by 131 points. It was Rovers' biggest win for years and revealed the true strength of the emerging club.
John Glasson has been able to attract a host of top Country footballers to the Blues camp and the trump card at the last game was the appearance of Clinton Ngalkin. He fitted like a glove in to the Rover game plan with Sherman Spencer, Oliver Wheeler, Leo Jarrah and Max Fejo all capitalising on Njalkin's drive.
On the other hand West have not touched a game ball since round six. This spell from the action may well bring the front runners back to the field.
But West have Berrington in mid field who is capable of controlling a game. Michael Gurney has really come of age this season, and with Curtis Haines, Henry Labastida and Karl Gunderson in crackerjack form, the Bloods cannot be discounted.
Federal run up against Pioneer in a game they will find difficult.
The Eagles are going to run on knowing that the season is past the winter solstice and warm days are on the way. Graeme Smith is still the premium operator in town. He has the unassuming but highly effective Aaron Kopp on his shoulder, and the talent of the Taylors and McCormacks to run amok on the ground.
With this fleet giving the Eagles a kick-start, Pioneers have a host of players capable of contributing at a very high level. Interestingly, Ezra Bray could even run on as an Eagle on Sunday, while presumably still being a listed Carlton player.
In the Federal camp, Michael Graham has done well since taking over the reins, but, as he knows, the road is long.
The Demons have not registered a win to date, and when they had the chance against South they could not find the way home. On Sunday they will need to be at their best and at full strength, with a Daniel Palmer back on board and firing, to hope for premiership points.


The Alice Springs Collection, housed at the Araluen Centre, has been boosted by the purchase of seven new works from local artists.
Curator Tim Rollason, in the job since the end of April, had to spend a $10,000 acquisitions grant from the Australia Council as one of his first tasks.
The collection is strongest in its representation of Indigenous art, and is added to each year by purchases from Desert Mob, which are paid for by commissions on the sales of work from this show to the public.
Recent purchases include Bindi artist Billy Benn's Mount Gillen other side and Parwalla by Balgo's Elizabeth Nyumi. They were both acquired from Desert Mob last year and can be seen in the current collection show, Outback Central.
Araluen decided to use the Australia Council grant to broaden the representation of non-Indigenous artists working in The Centre.
Mr Rollason's acquisitions include the ceramic installation Valentine by Pip McManus, shown last year at Watch This Space, and a photograph of desert oaks by Mike Gillam, both of which are also hanging in Outback Central.
McManus has a ceramic plate in Territory Craft's collection (Pandanus nuts is on display in Outback Central), but this is the first purchase by a local public collection of work by the widely respected Gillam.
Other purchases, yet to go on show, will introduce lesser known local artists to the public. These include a large oil diptych of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas, photo this page) by Suzanne Lollback, perhaps better known as the director of community and cultural development at the Alice Springs Town Council. She has been showing work in group exhibitions for the past few years and is now booked to have a solo show at Araluen next year.
Kate Podger's portrait of painter Narputta Nangala is an example of work by an artist who has also worked as a coordinator for an important Aboriginal art centre, Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff).
Other works fall into the same category: a pair of portraits by Cait Wait, the original coordinator at Keringke Arts (Santa Teresa); and Big Country by Marina Strocchi, original coordinator at Ikuntji. Wait is booked for a solo show next year, while Strocchi has just had a solo show.
The collection is already strong in works from Ikuntji and Keringke. Having work by the coordinators, apart from its own artistic worth, amplifies the collection's record of the development of contemporary Indigenous art.
This is what curating a collection is all about, says Mr Rollason.
"It's putting in place and preserving our visual cultural heritage, for now and into the future. "It's finding out who are the people contributing and how do we keep a record of that contribution.
"That includes not only caring for and acquiring works but researching relevant information about the artist and their work and making all of that available to the viewing public."
Mr Rollason has started producing extended captions, informative and easy to read, to hang alongside works on display, giving priority to works currently showing. It's a big job: the collection comprises over 660 works, including 18 extremely valuable early boards from Papunya. Five of these are hanging in Outback Central, including the wonderful Gulgardi (1971) by Kaapa Tjampitjinpa.
There are plans to dedicate an area within Araluen to the display of the early Papunya work as well as to undertake research with the artists' families about what they represent.
Meanwhile, Mr Rollason is opening up the Araluen storerooms to visitors with a special interest, such as students, collectors, researchers.
For while the Namatjira Gallery is the only one in Australia dedicated to the celebrated Western Arrernte artist and is a major drawcard for visitors, access to Araluen's other treasures at any one time is limited.
The next "unveiling" for the general public will follow this year's Desert Mob and will focus on textiles, drawing as well on Territory Craft's collection and possibly those of Aboriginal art centres.


Cattlemen in The Centre are hoping to set up a "multi species" export abattoir to minimise the effect of ongoing import restrictions by the United States, the region's principal overseas market.
Central Australian Cattlemen's Association chairman Gary Dann, of Amburla Station, says French and Italian companies have shown interest in investing in "a small export works of free range, clean Centralian beef.
"It should be a multi species works.
"Camels are going very well," says Mr Dann, and since the Mad Cow Disease scare in Europe, "I believe horse meat has gone up in demand by 30 per cent."
Mr Dann says: "We don't have to have a big kill in Central Australia because we don't carry the big numbers."
The town hasn't had an abattoir since the one in Smith Street burned down in 1988, increasing the freight bill for pastoralists.
"We've got a big taxi fare from Central Australia," says Mr Dann.
"Whichever way we go we're looking at 1500 to 2000 km.
"It's cheaper to export meat in a carton than live: it can't die and it can't get bruised."
He says there is a good market for camels and an estimated 200,000 of them are roaming Central Australia ­ mainly the south west corner and into WA.
"The numbers built up over the years without any help at all," says Mr Dann.
"They can run on marginal country.
"They can handle the drier times.
"They are good eating.
"Aboriginal country down in the south western corner of the NT has large numbers.
"They are the preferred meant in the Koran.
"There's certainly a future there."
However, Phil Anning, regional director of the NT Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, says the national trend is for "super abattoirs, very large ones".
"Very few operate with kills of less than 100,000 a year.
"The total turn-off from Central Australia is less than 50,000 a year.
"Consequently, any consideration for an abattoir would need a strong reason as to how it could operate on a scale so different to what is happening in the rest of Australia where small works have been closing down," says Mr Anning.
"This doesn't rule it out but investors would need a very good reason before committing to establishing a new, small meat works."
Says Mr Dann: "This is why it needs to be a works targeting niche markets." Mr Dann's comments come in the wake of the refusal by US President George W. Bush ­ despite earlier promises ­ to free up agricultural trade.
Last week Australian PM John Howard addressed the US Congress, saying ­ without achieving a change of US policy ­ that America's Farm Bill and its $300b subsidies "will damage Australia's farmers" and he is "intensely disappointed".
ABC television reported that only 15 per cent of US Senators and Congressmen were present to hear Mr Howard, and the chamber was filled with "aids, advisers and diplomats to make up the numbers".
Mr Howard's sentiment that "America has no better friend, anywhere in the world, than Australia" is unlikely to be shared by many Central Australian cattlemen.
The current US beef quota for Australia, which usually lasts into November, may be filled by August or September, mainly with cattle turned off drought stricken Queensland properties, especially from the Channel country, "traditional bullock country".
"You have a lot of heavier cut cattle coming off earlier," says Mr Dann.
JAPAN TRADE The industry also fears that another market for Australian beef, Japan, may be swamped by US exports, which are cheaper by virtue of government subsidies.
"This is what's been happening all along," says Mr Dann.
"This is where we want a fair sort of deal, equal standing with their farmers.
"We have some of the most efficient producers in the world.
"If it was one on one we'd be able to beat them quite easily."
However, Mr Dann is not calling for subsidies.
"We still have the cheapest meat in the world ­ our public has had that for years.
"We've got the cleanest and the cheapest meat in the world."
He says farmers in Europe are also heavily subsidised ­ equivalent to almost half of the cost of a beast in Australia.
"They get paid up to $200 for young steers, irrespective of the market, before they even go to the market.
"It would be lovely to be guaranteed that, wouldn't it?"
Neville Chalmers, of Dalgety's Wesfarmers in Alice Springs, says the US decision is "not in our favour".
"That and the rising dollar are not helping a great deal."
Mr Chalmers says while Mr Howard has been "Mr Nice Guy", Mr Bush is unlikely to accede to Australian demands: "It's all well and good for Mr Howard.
"In the end the American farmers will be the winners.
"We'll be on the bottom rung.
"That's the way I read it."
Jock McPherson, of Elders in Alice Springs, says US trade restrictions affect not only beef but all meat products from Australia.
He says at the moment prices are holding up, just marginally below last year's levels.
Top quality bullocks sold to Japan are bringing $750 to $850.
Last year the price was $1000 to $1200.
The average price in May 2002 was similar to last year's $500 to $550.
At the highest point last year the average was $750.

A multi million dollar Aboriginal owned eco-tourism complex and wildlife sanctuary half way between Alice Springs and Ayers Rock is close to getting off the ground.
The complex will be developed on Angas Downs Station, fronting the corner of Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road.
At striking distance of both The Rock and Kings Canyon, the corner is already used as a pick-up and drop-off point by bus companies but at present is entirely without facilities: not so much as a toilet or a tap.
The development is proposed by the Imanpa community, through their company Lisanote Pty Ltd.
Lisanote owns the Mt Ebenezer roadhouse, 50 kilometres east on the Lasseter Highway, and recently paid off the mortgage on Angas Downs, a pastoral lease but also the traditional country of many people in Imanpa.
Imanpa itself is on an excision within the neighbouring pastoral lease, but the community is seeking to also create an Aboriginal Living Area on Angas Downs, around the site of the old homestead. This would make them eligible for ATSIC and local government funds for infrastructure development.
Sandra Armstrong, a director of Lisanote and resident of Angas Downs, says of the complex: "We need Aboriginal businesses, so that the children can work when they finish school.
"We are making the business on Angas Downs now and when we finish up, then our children and grandchildren will run the business and manage the land forever.
"The kids are going to the Nyangatjatjara College now and then later they will work at the new roadhouse and animal sanctuary on Angas Downs."
CEO Glendle Schrader says Lisanote is already in the market raising finance for the tourism complex, and pending approval of land title changes, will move immediately to detailed planning and construction.
The concept was displayed at the recent Australian Tourism Exchange in Brisbane and Mr Schrader says the response from industry was "very, very positive":
"Our analysis at moment, based on Transport & Works road counts, shows one million people per annum crossing the intersection of Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road.
"Many people cross the corner three times, as they drive from Alice to Kings Canyon, drive back to go to Yulara and then out.
"A typical roadhouse in an isolated area would assume they would get a third of all passing traffic, stopping for fuel, a hamburger and a Mars Bar.
"We've operated from the beginning on the assumption that we would only get passing trade but now we are asking the market, if we had this [accommodation complex] how many years would you forward contract the rooms?
"The response may force us to decide that it's worth introducing the whole infrastructure immediately rather than in a staged project."
Mr Schrader says there has been no infrastructure development on the Lasseter Highway in the last 10 years despite a doubling of road traffic in that time.
The plan therefore makes not only good business sense but would also provide urgently needed infrastructure.
Lisanote is talking to potential joint venture partners who are testing market response in Europe.
They are also working closely with the NT Government, especially Parks and Wildlife, and the federal agency, Environment Australia.
They have applied to convert a large part of the 3221 square kilometre pastoral lease to an Indigenous Protected Area, "the next best thing to a national park".
This would attract Commonwealth funds for their wildlife sanctuary plans, which include the reintroduction of endangered species.
The lease was largely de-stocked 10 years ago, with the exception of a small killer herd. The land has regenerated well, especially in recent good seasons.
The land types are diverse: ranges, some sandhill country, and large mulga stands ­ some of the largest remaining stands of old growth mulga, according to Mr Schrader.
The owners wish to still use some areas on the eastern, lusher side of the property for cattle, turning the rest over to the tourism venture.
To be known as the Angus Downs Wildlife Sanctuary, the complex will comprise a roadhouse, motel, backpacker accommodation, wilderness lodges, a caravan park and staff accommodation, all backing on to the sanctuary.
The concept design by Brendan Meney, architect of the recently completed Centre for Remote Health, has all the elements hidden from one another, and anticipates using the best and latest desert living technology.
The idea is to enhance people's appreciation of the environment and its wildlife, while at the same time coping cleverly with anticipated large numbers.
If it all goes ahead, the development will obviously have an impact on Imanpa's existing enterprise at Mt Ebenezer
Mr Schrader says business at the roadhouse is being "re-themed" towards Aboriginal arts and crafts, which Angus Downs won't provide.
The Aboriginal cultural experience there will focus on traditional land management and knowledge of country.
How ready are community members for employment at the sanctuary?
They are already involved at senior management, as the directors that own the property and the company that will develop it.
Tjuki Tjukanku, a director of Lisanote, resident of Angas Downs and senior traditional owner, says: "We're making a tourism business to make money for the children.
"We are keeping this land as Anangu land and the children can hold it forever E
ŒOUR' IDEAS "Lisanote is our Anangu company and these are our ideas, not the government's idea or other people's ideas.
"We have to take care of our land so that when we pass away, somebody doesn't come and take over."
Mr Schrader says there will be employment opportunities for people at Imanpa in the construction phase and in the development and maintenance of the animal sanctuary, as well as prospects for them with Aboriginal tourism. This will not be just around the sanctuary development, but also doing four-wheel drive tours to archeological and historical sites on the station.
"Research shows that tourists want all these things but haven't been able to get involved with them as much as they would like," he says.
Mr Schrader is also CEO of Wana Ungkunytja Pty Ltd, one of whose activities is Anangu Tours, based at The Rock. He says Anangu Tours, which last year had over 20,000 customers, is probably the largest employer of Aboriginal people in the south-western region, offering part-time tour guide work to some 60 people a year. To date this work option has not been available to people at Imanpa.
Is the project intended to compete directly with the resorts at Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon?
Mr Schrader: "In the tourism industry you probably get two types of people: one says that we should increase the size of the pie for everyone, the other says we should try to pinch a piece of the action from someone else.
"We try to work from a positive basis. If we offer a quality service in a desirable location at an attractive price then we're increasing the size of the pie.
"But this is an option which many people may prefer to take up rather than, for example, the Ayers Rock Resort option, which is at the top end of the market by Australian standards.
"The market is changing towards this type of eco-tourism experience."


Ted Egan, who has been made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the Northern Territory University, is calling for a two way educational experiment for adults in The Centre.
It would use the CDEP approach to pay Aboriginal adults to become literate in their own languages as well as English and to acquire living skills such as computer literacy, while in turn their teachers and others would become students of Aboriginal languages and culture.
Dr Egan's proposal was the focus of his occasional address at the university's graduation ceremony last Friday night, part of which we reproduce here:-
One of the great Territorians to my mind was Beulah Lowe, a Methodist missionary who went into Arnhem Land in the early 1950s with the agenda to translate the Bible into local languages. She did just that. Along the way she became totally fluent in especially Gupapuyngu which is the lingua franca of Arnhem Land.
The exciting difference with Beulah was that she was so grateful to the old people who had taught her that she in turn taught them to be literate in their own language. They could not read or write English but they were so proud of their acquired ability to read their own language.
There has been good educational achievement among the Aboriginals of north-eastern Arnhem Land, and I submit that this has largely been achieved because, at the outset, the adults were sold on the notion that education is a good thing.
Mandawuy Yunupingu was the first Aboriginal with an Australian first language to get a university degree. His father, Mungurrawuy Yunupingu, was ever so proud of the ability he had acquired from Beulah Lowe to read his own Gumatj language. He encouraged his children to attend school and derive maximum benefit.
As I look around me in Central Australia I see dreadful apathy towards education among Aboriginals. I think that Aboriginal literacy standards have dropped considerably in recent decades.
I see Aboriginal children listlessly walking the streets as though there was no school for them to attend.
I am saddened by the daily parade of Aboriginals as they shuffle from the welfare office to the bank to the bottle shop. At every place white people serve them, fill out the forms for them, and often despise them.
It is a huge problem that in Australia, from 1788, the attitude of whites was that Aboriginals had nothing of value to offer us ­ except their land, which we were going to take over in any case.
There was no attempt to learn language from them. Their vast level of knowledge of the land was largely ignored.
People of the First and Second Fleet contingents determinedly starved on a diet of rotten salted pork at Sydney Cove, in the presence of local Aboriginals who lived like lords on fish, seafood, local plant foods and kangaroos.
It took 25 years to cross the Blue Mountains because nobody thought to ask the locals for directions.
As a necessary process of taking over their land we institutionalised Aboriginals and then decided we must educate their children. Let's ignore the adults, there's no hope for them. Let's teach the children English and the way of the white man. They are bound to derive benefit and see the light.
I think ignoring the parents has been and is our biggest blunder, for I am sure that in many places there has been a subversive, and often not so subversive campaign among adults Aboriginals to negate the efforts of school teachers to bring enlightenment to the young.
At best, there is passive acceptance that the children are being educated away from their traditional attitudes and beliefs. At worst, I think children are being told by parents that this "school business" is yet another manifestation of whitefellers controlling our lives, eliminating our language, and taking over our culture and our land.
I have had talks with quite a few people in recent months about the notion of extending the CDEP approach on a trial basis into Aboriginal adult education, where adults are paid to be students in a practical, two-way educational experiment aimed at achieving literacy in their own languages and in English, and in the acquisition of the necessary skills of today ­ computer and communication skills, hygiene skills, skills that will give them the jobs normally done by white people, particularly in the tourism industry and in the management of their own communities and enterprises.
I envisage a school week, where Aboriginal adults for half the time are taught by teachers (including a pool of volunteers). These are not just teachers doing the three Rs ­ but there has to be plenty of that.
This is a volunteer team of computer experts, tourism operators, clothing consultants, shop owners, small business operators, trades people like bakers, welders, mechanics, hairdressers, health inspectors, medical personnel.
Those people run the show for half of the school week. Students are paid their "allowance" only if they attend, and achieve. There is no compulsion.
The other half of the school week is run by the adult Aboriginal students themselves, teaching the white teachers ­ and others ­ Aboriginal skills like language, bushcraft, anthropology, traditional practices. Yes, there will be exams.
Aboriginals have lived in this region ­ some of the toughest country in the world ­ for countless thousands of years, understanding every aspect of the country. If they did nothing else they devised a marriage system to prevent inbreeding that is unparalleled in the universe.
Their languages are some of the oldest in the world.
Many of us would avow that Central Australia is "the only place to live". Wouldn't it be nice if Aboriginals could pass on to us, on a formal level, some of their expert knowledge of the region? Why not Honorary Doctorates in Aboriginal Knowledge?
Why not a Central Australian University of Traditional Australian Studies?
Pipe dreaming? What I'm proposing is not just an attempt to do something because we have local problems, although there is certainly that aspect to it. At the same time it's an attempt to take education onto a positive, joyful, fulfilling level, the level that has you doing research or typing assignments because you want to do it.
At the same time I would hope that, however slowly, an enthusiasm for education engendered among adults might transfer to the younger generation. If Mum and Dad are the obvious beneficiaries of a well-rounded educational system it is reasonable to assume that they, like Beulah Lowe's group, who taught her and then were taught by her, might pass on to their kids the notion that this education business is a good thing.
Perhaps it could be called the Beulah Lowe experiment? It should of necessity start on a "crawl before we walk" basis. I'll be taking the matter further.

Spend enough time in Alice Springs and a few things start to become clear. Take fences, for example.
A fence is a fence, isn't it? Well, actually, no. A fence in our town is a statement about where the owner comes from and where he or she wishes to end up.
Take the humble picket fence. A little piece of suburbia out in the desert. This poor little line of timbers feels out of place here in the Outback and would rather be in a street of green-lawned villas or Victorian townhouses.
What might be the excuse for this? Perhaps the owner misses Melbourne and finds the isolation of Alice a little scary. Or he wants his ex-commission three-bedroomed place to look like it aspires to something more. Either way, if it had a voice, the picket fence would want to leave the Centre and go elsewhere in Australia before it becomes termite fodder.
What about those six-foot high metal monstrosities? The ones with corrugations, either vertical or horizontal. Painted municipal green in colour. These fences say, "Keep out, I value my privacy" or, more intriguingly, "Wouldn't you like to know what goes on in here?". But, of course, you can't unless you are two metres tall.
If the town was somehow flattened by a freak asteroid collision, you can be sure that the green panels would be the only features left standing.
And then we have the metal bar fence. Those tough, straight vertical bars. Very European. Serious and authoritarian. Not easily shaken. Can be painted any colour. If too tall, they make you feel under detention. If too short, they offer no security and you wonder why such a forbidding fence is needed at all.
The metal bar fence is the ultimate image fence. It achieves little, but it says a lot.
We must not forget the brick wall. I saw a high and new brick wall the other day behind which a broken down house was hiding. In fact, the wall may have been worth more than the building. This tells us little, other than that a brick fence is a good investment, but only if you have something behind it that you really need to protect. Brick is not popular for fences in the Alice.
By now, you may start to think that I am simply sneering at the fencing peccadillos of the people of our town. That is not my intention. Fences are important. They frame a building and they make a statement to the passer-by. I even have a fence around my house, although I would prefer not to tell you the type.
You see, the open plans and manicured lawns of the Golf Course Estate are not for me. These seem like streets for driving only. If you walk, you don't know when you might stray on to someone's property, so you walk on the road instead. This means that houses without fences force pedestrians on to the bitumen.
This is a hazard which Government TV information bulletins should warn us about. Build a fence, they should say, and keep others safe (authorised by the Commonwealth Government, Canberra). Not only that, but a house with a lawn and no fence looks naked. It needs to put on clothes.
Which brings me to the point. The most common fence in town is the half-metre government pipe-and-mesh. The embodiment of cheap and cheerful. Dig underneath it and you will find the popular archaeology of the last 30 years, from chocolate bar wrappers to plastic toys to old coins spilled from the pockets of those who sat slumped against it in 1975.
The pipe-and-mesh fence properly marks the boundary of any place. It discourages children and animals.
It encourages neighbours to lean across for a yarn. It stretches out unbroken all over the suburbs of our town. There is nothing more homely and welcoming than the pipe-and-mesh.
Dogs urinate against it, drunks break bottles on it, vehicles reverse into it and the sun beats down on it for decades. But still it looks just the same.
Now there's the real spirit of Alice Springs.


In the current environment it is of the utmost importance that we are tough on terrorism and terrorists.
However, it is also vital that we do not, in our haste to deal with terrorists, undermine the civil liberties that are at the heart of our democracy and way of life.
The original Anti-terrorist legislation presented by the Howard Government was rushed, it was sloppy legislation that did not properly target the terrorists. In its original form the legislation held every prospect of undermining our rights as citizens, including freedom of association and the right to protest.
The proscription of the groups or organisations by governments was one of the most ominous and disturbing aspects of the original legislation.
It gave extreme authoritarian power to a Minister, the Attorney General, or any other minister he nominates. The Attorney, or other Minister could ban an organisation simply by issuing a press release. This is totally unacceptable.
Under this proposal it would have been possible that peaceful protests, such as those being planned for Pine Gap later in the year, could have been defined as terrorist acts and the organisations behind them proscribed as terrorist organisations.
The Howard Government's proposals were reminiscent of another time. In the 1950's Robert Menzies tried to drive a wedge into the Labor party by banning the Communist Party. Even thought the vast majority of Australians did not like communists or communism, they voted down a referendum to ban it. The Australian community did this because proscription was a bad idea and because they thought it was antidemocratic.
They were right then and they are right now. We do not need proscription to target terrorism, nor do we need sloppy and rushed laws.
Proscription generally works for a government if the organisation they want to ban is visible and has a known membership. The terrorists of the 21st century are not on the radar. They are part of secret, clandestine organisations.
Governments, historically ­ the Nazi and various communist regimes, the South African apartheid regime ­ have proscribed for political advantage, not to defend the nation.
We should not risk the democratic rights of visible non-terrorist organisations to make it look like we are doing something about invisible murderers. We should not give a government of the future the ability to exercise massive power against its political rivals.
The hard-headed, effective approach is to properly define the offences and let the police and the courts do their jobs. Labor will be making sure that any anti-terrorist legislation targets terrorists and no one else.
Thankfully there has now been a Parliamentary inquiry in to the Bill and a series of amendments have been proposed that will address many of the deficiencies identified by Labor.
The original bills proposed such a wide definition that many forms of civil protest could potentially have been criminalised as terrorist acts. For example, unionists, farmers or indigenous people protesting, marching, or mass emailing could have fallen within the definition as soon as their actions were unlawful in any way ­ be it trespass, nuisance, or property damage.
Labor will ensure that the definition of terrorism is reframed to refer to the use of violence to influence the government or to intimidate or coerce the public.
The proposed bills threatened basic principles of our legal system. The onus of proof was to be reversed in many of the offences, so that people facing life sentences would have to prove their innocence, as opposed to the prosecution having to prove their guilt.
This is something that we cannot support. The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of our law. Someone who does not have the knowledge or the intent, is extremely unlikely to be a terrorist and should be dealt with under the criminal law.
The legislation proposed also attempts to bring the criminal code into the information age. I am not convinced that emails should have any lesser protection than telephone calls ­ that is, we need an interception warrant that offers appropriate privacy protections, as opposed to a search warrant.
Labor will be proposing a set of legislative mechanisms to target terrorists, that will cut off terrorist funds. We support the legislation that classifies terrorism as a heinous crime and puts terrorists in jail for 25 years. Our model will target terrorists: it will not target the innocent bystanders.
This legislation will seek balance between the necessity to target and prosecute terrorists and safeguarding the basic democratic freedoms.

Aussie Rules in Central Australia is on a real high. On Saturday in an historic afternoon of the running game, teams from Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice came together at Traeger Park to play a "down the track" carnival.
Katherine proved too good for the Desert Warriors, winning 14.8 (92) to 9.7 (61).
Then in the under age game Desert Storm accounted for Tennant Creek, 20.14 (134) to 2.2 (14).
This Sunday, the Territory Thunder will test themselves against a full on CAFL representative side.
Meanwhile, in CAFL competition on the weekend Pioneers downed a resolute South 12.14 (86) to 11.4 (70) and Rovers had a field day scoring 26.18 (174) to Federals 6.7 (43).
Katherine have come off a season which runs from January until June and were in full flight against the confident Desert Warriors. Prominent in the Katherine line up were Dion Kelly who has a top reputation in the NTFL and proved to be a valued goal scorer. Also in the lineup was Rory Chapple who was a West cornerstone in years gone by. Sebastian Bowden, Owen Turner and Braun Bush were also prominent.
For the Desert Warriors the 31-point loss proved to be a disappointment but from it lessons have been learned. Rather than having a coaching box packed with advisers it may well be a good idea to have one appointed coach calling the shots. However Daryl Ryder, Don Scharber, Darren Young, Malcolm Ross and Oliver Wheeler were players who stood up in the encounter.
The obvious question now is when will the Katherine Districts League face the Central Australian Football League?
It was not possible this season as the CAFL were expecting that the Spencer Gulf League would make a return visit after the Centralian side went to Port Augusta last year. When the SGL pulled out, the Territory Thunder wasted no time in making themselves available for a match prior to the indication of Katherine's interest in a game. Maybe in 2003 such a game could take place.
On this weekend the CAFL take to the Thunder. To many it will seem to be a David versus Goliath affair. However the Thunder are coming off a series on the road where they have played and trained in Melbourne. Their premier game was against top TAC side Oakleigh where they went down by 19 points. This would have hardened the team, and with other games and professional training sessions undertaken, the Thunder will no doubt fly into Alice as a well-drummed unit.
For the CAFL, coach Roy Arbon has again stuck firmly to his policy of blooding young players. Several local and country players have failed to attract the attention of Thunder executives and this will be a chance for the CAFL to show that there are young men playing in the south worthy of consideration. Otherwise the brilliance of Graeme Smith, Jarrad Berrington, and a host of experienced CAFL campaigners should be overwhelming , but a good experience, for the Thunder.
In the games played last weekend Smith proved his true worth when Pioneer faced South. The Roos put up a good fight against a somewhat under manned Pioneer outfit, but again it was Smith who led from the front for the Eagles.
They ran on short of Trevor Dhu, Laughlan Ross, Clinton Pepperill, Ryan Mallard, and Norm Hagan.
South kept with Pioneer in the first half, being 6-2 to 8-5 down at half time and in the game. In real terms however Pioneer had dominated possession and not capitalised on opportunities.
After the big break South were late to enter the arena and the umpire interestingly bounced the ball just as their rucks crossed into the square. The decision however didn't handicap the Roos as they goaled through Gilbert Fishook and seemed to compose themselves.
The Eagles however took control of possession from that point and only for inaccuracy should have stitched the game up. At the orange break Pioneer held a 19 shots to nine advantage and yet led by a mere 25 points.
In the run home Craig Turner put the Eagles in an even more secure position with an early goal, but then South revived. They booted a volley of three goals in succession to come within nine points of their rivals.
A steadying goal however from Daniel Stafford signaled time up and the Eagles again collected premiership points.
The Eagles were well served by Wayne McCormack and Aaron Kopp who week in week out are reliable ball-getters, and have highly efficient disposal techniques. Vaughan Hampton again showed why he is an automatic pick in an 18, and Calvin Williams contributed well. But at the helm the best on ground points went the way of Smith.
In the South camp Gilbert Fishook booted six goals and proved to be a real force in the forward division. Ali Satour and Don Scharber did every thing right, and had the Roos been able to establish a pathway through the centreline their efforts would have been even more effective. Bradley Braun is a player on the move. He has developed and could become a tower of strength for the South team.
The game between Rovers and Federal proved to be a comprehensive defeat for the Undoolya Road side. Rover coach John Glasson has put in more than required in his role and the hard work is now paying off. To see the Rover brigade cruise from the centre bounce through to full forward with precision, was a signal to West and Pioneer that the race for the flag this year is not a two club affair.
Rovers booted six goals to one in the first term, after Max Fejo set them alight in the first minute of play. In the second session Feds fought back creditably, with Desmond Jack kicking two goals, and majors coming from Charlie Lynch and Shane Buzzacott.
In reply however after goal sneak Nathan McGregor scored, Clinton Ngalken put Rovers in a convincing position with two goals in as many minutes. This had come from the dynamic play of Oliver Wheeler who from this quarter onwards controlled possession of the ball at the centre bounce and effectively headed it in a forward direction.
At the big break Feds were looking down the barrel at 31 points down, 10.4 (64) to 5.3 (33).
In most games the third quarter is the one that tells. In the case of this game it was the start of the end for Federal. The Blues piled on a merciless 10.9 for the term while Federal could only muster 1.2. The highlight of the quarter was the explosive performance of Sherman Spencer who simply ran amok in the forward line scoring three personal goals and setting up plenty of others for the rampaging Rovers.
The more Wheeler belted the ball out of the centre, the greater were the opportunities for Rovers up forward. McGregor hit his straps with three goals for the term, and even Jamie Tidy joined the frenzy with a major.
In the final term coach Glasson showed no mercy. While he shifted players around, he urged his side to a full-on performance right to the bell. As a result a further 6.5 were recorded to Feds' two behinds.
Spencer continued to mesmerise with another three goals, while Edric Coulthard tasted the thrill of goal-kicking, as did Terry Mumu.
The 131-point win to Rovers was the biggest for the season by any side. Spencer, Wheeler, Tidy and Ngalken were in Rovers' best, while for Feds captain Daryl Ryder battled all day and both Charlie Lynch and Willy Naylor were true believers.


"We had a sniffer here who's in a wheelchair.
"He went away to Injartnama [a petrol sniffers' rehabilitation facility near Hermanns-burg] for four or five months.
"He started looking very well. He started to put on weight.
"Everything was in his favour.
"When he completed the program and came back here the parents gave him a jerrycan full of petrol.
"That was his reward.
"That's why the parents really have to be educated and told of the dangers of petrol because they're the ones actually giving it to the kids.
"We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"People are more or less protecting the sniffers, covering up for them. At the end of the day it's really got to come from the people themselves."
This account comes from Graeme Calma, chairman of the Mutitjulu Community, owners of the nation's premier tourist attraction, Uluru.
About 400,000 people from all over the world visit Uluru each year and spend millions of dollars at the Ayers Rock Resort, 27 km from Mutitjulu.
About 1000 people work at the resort, most of them from interstate and overseas.
Although the multinational company which owns the resort is "very keen" to employ Aboriginal people, according to Mr Calma, not a single one of the resort staff is from Mutitjulu, which he says has an unemployment rate of some 75 per cent.
Mutitjulu has a population of about 250 and nearly 10 per cent are petrol sniffers, terrorising locals, breaking into homes and vandalising cars to get to their poisonous substance of addiction.
When Prime Minister Bob Hawke "handed back" Uluru to the Aboriginal people in the 1988 ­ the Bicentennial Year ­ the act was meant not only to be symbolic, but also to lay the foundation for their economic advancement.
But 14 years later Mutitjulu has reached a dramatic low point.
Says Mr Calma: "People complain about the amount of noise these young sniffers make, they're going around assaulting people, breaking into places, they're just out of control.
"It's very hard to pull them up.
"Sometimes when you're going to pull them up you feel very threatened and intimidated at times, you don't know what these young fellows are going to do."
Mr Calma says police intervention is not always timely: "We more or less have to fend for ourselves, in a way.
"The police won't really come out unless someone's running amuck.
"If someone's causing trouble they will come out but not really at night time.
"They have been working with us with a lot of the break-ins, we've been reporting them straight away."
Mr Calma says police usually come the next morning because "night time if you ring through [the call is] diverted to Alice Springs.
"A lot of the stuff is dealt with the following morning.
"It's far too late then because the people who've done the damage have moved somewhere else for some time, out of Mutitjulu.
"You can't track them down.
"Sometimes they hide. As soon as the police turn up you see a lot of the young fellows running."
Alice Springs police superintendent Tom Svikart says the phone of the Ayers Rock Resort police is at times switched through to Alice Springs but there are always officers at The Rock on call who can be deployed at short notice.
Mr Calma says not even a start has been made placing Mutitjulu residents in The Rock's burgeoning tourist industry: "It's never been tried and tested before.
"I think it's up to the people.
"They have to say, I want to do that, try and go for it.
"And then we could support them, encourage them. But a lot of them, when they see other people doing their work and other people being here, straight away they let everyone else do the work, and sit down and watch.
"They'll shy off.
"A lot of them do speak good English.
"We're encouraging them to work around here, in the community.
"We've got a lot of contracts.
"It's really hard ­ you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink it.
"We need the young people to be more creative.
"A lot of young fellows have done a lot of courses.
"A lot have completed their certificate in horticulture, things like that.
"We'd like them to go back on the lands, [set up] community gardens, where everyone can get involved.
"The biggest problem is the sniffers coming along, undoing all our good work.
"The young fellows get very frustrated when fences have all been smashed by sniffers." Mr Calma says the resort is "very keen to take a lot of the young fellows on.
"It just takes time to put things into place.
"The people are very shy, very sensitive towards certain things."
Mutitjulu is now trying out a system where elders are acting as mentors for young people seeking employment.
But Mr Calma says the mayhem created by sniffers needs to be stopped first, and the solution must "come from the people themselves, it can't come from people outside. The problem is within the community. It's everyone's problem."
Park Australia staff, who run the national park under a lease agreement with the traditional owners, have offered to help, including taking "these sniffers back to where they came from", says Mr Calma, and $200,000 from store profits has been set aside to adapt an outstation 110 km away.
He says the plan is to "set something up for these young people, get them out there".
"We need the parents.
"We find the biggest problem to discipline these kids are the parents.
"When you start knocking the cans out of their faces, the parents will usually turn on you.
"That's why it's a very hard thing to handle."

Trevor Hyman is scratching his head about the renewable energy hype in Alice Springs. The $24m federally funded Bushlight program is rolling out across the Top End of Australia, managed in part by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) in Alice Springs.
The Outback Expo and the Desert Knowledge Symposium here in August are billed as "Australia's First Ever International Showcase".
But Trevor doesn't know of anyone locally he can ask for practical advice about a solar plant that is actually up and running ­ the one on his two hectare block in Petrick Road.
He says the two small solar energy firms in The Alice are helpful, but only to a point, because their focus ­ not surprisingly ­ is on selling their products and services.
His main advice comes from a mate in Mooloolah, Queensland.
If there's a wealth of desert knowledge in The Alice, Trevor doesn't know how to get hold of it.
The local Outback 2002 says the Expo will "provide a vivid picture of the Outback's strengths, successful problem-solving capacity and plans for the future".
But if Trevor wants to find out about a fuse in his inverter he needs to ring interstate.
Trevor has cobbled together a sun and wind-driven plant that has reduced his PAWA bill from $270 a quarter to $30.
It runs not only his household but also a well-equipped workshop with a range of power tools and a welder.
The bank of 20 batteries are fed by two wind turbines mounted on tall masts, made by Trevor and his son, Russell, and a bank of fixed roof-mounted solar panels.
A recent addition is an upright solar panel that Trevor swivels manually to keep it pointed at the sun.
Trevor, whose day job is as a motor mechanic, is now working on an automatic sun tracking system for that panel.
His aim is not only electricity self-sufficiency in three years' time, when he plans to retire, but also to sell electricity back into the PAWA grid.
However, the PAWA buy-back scheme has a hitch: it is conditional upon leasing of switching equipment at a cost Trevor doesn't consider feasible.
With his trial and error approach and the use of largely second hand materials Trevor operates in a different world from politicians, bureaucrats and publicly funded organisations in the renewable energy field.
A blurb from Outback 2002 says about the August talkfest in the new Convention Centre: "With close to one billion people world-wide living in desert environments, this first ever Symposium will draw together experts from around the world to discuss and debate the unique role of Australia in solving problems in remote regions similar to our own.
"Establishing the foundations for development and export of our world-class knowledge will feature strongly in the conference agenda."
Trevor's plant ­ not counting his labour ­ cost $7,500 so far, and he knows every nut and bolt in it.
Ironically, that's exactly the amount of the Federal Photovoltaic Rebate, administered in the NT by the Department of Mines, as a one-off grant for domestic units.
Trouble is, Trevor can't get that money because his unit hasn't been "installed by technicians accredited by the Sustainable Energy Industry Association".
Trevor's investment is a lot less than the $24m ­ one third from ATSIC ­ that Canberra will spend over the next four years on Bushlight, although some of its nuts and bolts issues still seem very much up in the air.
Already four years in the planning Bushlight will put solar power plants into 200 small communities across WA, NT and Queensland, replacing diesel generators.
The populations of these Aboriginal communities, most of them exceedingly remote, will be around 50.
A survey by CAT and the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Perth, a partner in Bushlight, has found that just 64 per cent of currently installed solar plants on Aboriginal communities are working, compared to "between 83 and 92 per cent" on pastoral properties, with batteries the main cause of malfunctions.
The survey report says: "A large difference was obvious in attitudes to energy conservation with only two per cent of indigenous communities thinking that energy conservation was important compared to around two thirds of the respondents from the pastoral and tourist sector."
In view of this, it is surprising that no reliable arrangements had been put in place with the 200 selected communities for the servicing and competent use of the gear before ­ with great fanfare ­ the spending of $6m a year was committed.
Clive Scollay, local head of Outback 2002, says Trevor's story raises "very real issues about ordinary citizens' access to simple information and everyday solutions.
"But I guess there's an opportunity for [a body] like ALEC or a commercial outfit or even an NT Government shopfront to provide simple information. "Part of the purpose behind the Desert Knowledge Australia push as I understand it, is to create opportunities that just might plug these holes." Desert Knowledge Australia project officer Mike Crowe says the story "indicates the very need for Desert Knowledge Australia.
"I think that the expertise that Trevor seeks is present in various locations around desert Australia.
"Desert Knowledge Australia aims to bring those individuals and organisations together to provide a more coordinated service.
"Trevor's experience and knowledge will also be valuable to the network.
"The Desert Knowledge Symposium has presented us with an excellent opportunity to further progress these networking opportunities in the renewable energy field amongst the many others that we are exploring."


Strife at the Aboriginal owned Yipirinya School seems far from resolution despite a return to work by staff following marathon meetings last week with mediator former Territory Senator, Bob Collins.
The agreements resulting from conciliation have not been put in writing, say well-informed sources, and some of what staff understood as conditions for their return to work, have since been reneged upon.
Barrister John Stirk, acting for the school council, confirms that the agreements have not been "reduced to writing".
Mr Stirk says that the Independent Education Union had agreed to do this and that the document has been promised for early this week.
This situation appears to be giving rise to confusion.
It was a bottom line for staff, the sources say, that principal Diane de Vere be reinstated, whereas Ms de Vere is in fact being paid out.
Mr Stirk says, while staff demanded the principal's reinstatement when they first walked off the job, it was no longer a condition when they returned to work.
"We have been told that the union's legal representatives, Maurice Blackburn, will be writing to us about Ms de Vere's separation entitlements under the Industrial Relations Act," says Mr Stirk.
The sources say staff did not want to return to work under the same management and understood that a short-term acting principal would be appointed; they expected that Debra Maidment, former assistant director at IAD, would be in this position.
Mr Stirk says Ms Maidment has been appointed as "staff liaison officer" and will assist in developing the governance and financial review processes agreed upon in the mediation.
The sources say that another person, a council member, has occupied the principal's office and is wielding authority.
Mr Stirk says that there was no agreement that Rhonda Inkamala, the deputy principal, be removed from her position and that, as "the only one left", she is acting as principal.
On the first day back at work, the sources say, all staff were locked out of the administration building where the staff tearoom and toilets are located and the building was surrounded by people close to the council.
"This is denied and has been disputed in correspondence," says Mr Stirk.
The sources say one staff member resigned after staff walked off the job three weeks ago and that three more staff are about to resign.
Mr Stirk says council has received a letter of resignation from one staff member.
This conflicting understanding of what has been agreed upon and what is happening does not bode well for the "return to normalcy" sought by mediator Bob Collins, also co-chair of the Territory Government's Learning Lessons Implementation Committee.
With staff and some children now back in classrooms, two major reviews of the operations of Yipirinya School will begin immediately.
The Commonwealth's Department of Education, Science and Training, the school's major funding agency, will commission an audit of the school's financial affairs, while the school council has agreed to a review of governance by an independent consultant.
Mr Collins says the governance review will be comprehensive and will include the constitution.
The constitution was drafted in 1978. The necessity of its reform was put to DEST by former principal Fiona McLoughlin, following her resignation towards the end of 2000. The constitution allows only parents of students enrolled at the school to be council members.
According to Mrs McLoughlin, this had enabled certain members "to take great control of the school operation" and students' education and well-being "were not always at the forefront of decision-making by the council".
As reported in last week's Alice News, Mrs McLoughlin's advice was not even acknowledged, let alone acted upon.
However, now that things have been allowed to go from bad to worse ­ with a yet to be measured detrimental impact on the students' education ­ the issue is finally being addressed.
Mr Collins would not comment on DEST's failure to intervene before the eruption of the present crisis.
Says Mr Collins: "There is no question about how serious and deep-seated the problems at Yipirinya are.
"It has been a flagship of Indigenous education, the only Aboriginal-controlled school in the Territory.
"My aim as mediator was to get an agreement with the council to address its long-term problems immediately and comprehensively, and to get an agreement from staff to go back to work.
"A significant degree of good will need to be exercised by all parties over the next two weeks.
"If some degree of normalcy can't be returned by the end of term, it will not bode well.
"Meanwhile, the process is underway and has been agreed to by the council."

The annual NAIDOC march and rally, scheduled for mid-July, is unlikely to go ahead this year because of the escalating cost of public liability insurance.
Moves by the Territory Government, in cooperation with other states and territories, to reduce public liability premiums will come too late to save, this year at least, the annual celebration of Indigenous achievement.
ATSIC had invited the Gap Youth Centre to organise this year's march and rally but GYC had to refuse after their insurance broker was unable to provide cover.
"It was outside the normal scope of our activities. We could not get cover regardless of cost, it was an uninsurable risk," says GYC manager, Joanne Miller.
ATSIC then appealed to CAAMA, producers of last year's huge Yeperenye Federation Festival.
However, chairman Paul Ah Chee says it is too late for CAAMA both to explore the public liability issue and to organise the kind of event that they would want to.
"We set a high standard for ourselves with the Yeperenye Festival and it's fortunate that event occurred before the HIH collapse," says Mr Ah Chee.
ATSIC spokesperson David Liddle is appealing to other Aboriginal community organisations to take over the reins. Mr Liddle says there will probably still be a way to hold the NAIDOC awards presentations, even if there is no march or rally.
The Yeperenye Festival just made it over the line as far as insurance is concerned. The festival's Executive Director, Clive Scollay, now ED of Outback Central, says the insurance industry was warning a year ago that it would be increasingly difficult to find cover for big events, if not impossible when they occurred out of doors.
Most of the Outback Central celebrations are taking place indoors, although elements of the Alice Springs Festival program have been planned as street events. The several types of insurance required were being negotiated as the Alice News went to press.
What about other fixtures in the Alice Springs calendar?
The premium for the Alice Springs Show went up nearly 100 per cent.
"We've just had to pay it in order for the show to go ahead," said Show Society secretary, Lyn Oliver.
The Henley-on-Todd, organised by the local Rotary Clubs, will not be greatly affected, says board member Bill van Dijk who ran the event for 10 years..
All Rotary activities are covered by policies taken out by Rotary International or Rotary Australia.
The membership have been notified that there is likely to be a small increase in their dues to cover increased costs, says Mr van Dijk.
And what about the extreme sports our youth have a passion for?
The Alice Springs Youth Centre would like to add abseiling to its offerings, but manager Allan Jacks says they are "holding their breath" to see what their premiums are at the end of the financial year.
Public liability is also an issue for the Youth Centre's major fund-raiser, the May Day Sports Carnival, which is held off premises and so requires expensive additional risk insurance.
The new skate park, however, will carry no more risk for the Alice Town Council than any other open space park.
It will not be enclosed or supervised in any way, and signs will advise that the onus of responsibility will be on the user.
Council CEO Nick Scarvelis says the cost of public liability is an issue in a general sense but it is not putting in jeopardy any council infrastructure or programs.
The Territory Government, following a Ministerial Meeting of Treasurers in Melbourne on May 30, is looking at a range of actions to be taken to reduce public liability premiums.
These include introducing thresholds and caps on insurance claims. There will also be a national review of negligence and its definition and scope within the legal system, and a review of parts of the Trade Practices Act to ensure the continuation of business activities like adventure tourism.
Deputy Chief Minister Syd Stirling, who represented the Territory in Melbourne, said that the Territory Government's measures will be determined within the month.
"The Northern Territory will progressively introduce measures that will complement the moves occurring in other jurisdictions.
"But it must be remembered that with less than one per cent of the public liability insurance market, the NT cannot influence premiums in the way larger jurisdictions can.
"The issues are very complex. NT Treasury and the Department of Justice will be allocating considerable resources to develop the legislative package needed to underpin these reforms," said Mr Stirling.


The proposed amendments to Australia's security legislation will not take away our rights as citizens, nor will they impact upon our rights of freedom of association and the right to protest.
For example, the planned protest at Pine Gap being organised for later in the year will not be affected in any way by these amendments. The Federal Government has set a high priority on the amendments. Like all Australians, I am deeply shocked and concerned at the level to which some terrorists and terrorist organisations will now go in order to bring attention to their cause. There can be no doubt that individuals and organisations involved in carrying out insidious acts of terrorism are becoming better resourced and organised.
They also appear willing to involve greater acts of violence intending to kill or maim larger numbers of innocent people. The changes to the Terrorism and related Bills will give our security and anti-espionage agencies an improved legislative and legal base to assist in keeping Australia and Australians safer from terrorists and their activities. We live in a democratic country and enjoy the right to express our views on any issue. We also enjoy the right to conduct and participate in protests and gatherings to convey our position to governments and companies.
This right is enshrined in our constitution and laws and should not be removed. What should not be permitted is any wilful act that puts Australians in danger and our national security at risk. It is also important that the Government institute mechanisms to prevent people from providing support and assistance to terrorists.
The changes to the legislation proposed in these Bills will target terrorists, terrorist organisations and their supporters while still allowing for lawful political protests and gatherings. The government also respects the outstanding work carried out by humanitarian aid organisations in world trouble spots and has made provisions to ensure that such work is not considered aiding and abetting terrorist organisations. Protesters ­ for example, those who gather at Pine Gap ­ must accept though that there are consequences for illegal acts. If their actions or protests involve harm or damage to personnel or equipment, then that action is much more serious than a protest.
When the operation or the effectiveness of our security and defence organisations are intentionally or wilfully compromised then there should rightly be consequences for those acts.
The security and safety of Australians is a priority of the Howard Government. These proposed amendments to our security and anti-terrorism legislation are a further example of this commitment. Leadership is about identifying problems and implementing solutions. As your Senator I am working with the Government to implement new anti-terrorism laws that will help keep all Australians and our country safe from acts of terrorism.
[Comment from Warren Snowdon MHR next week.]

The honours of the 2002 Finke Desert race went the way of the cars when the newly built 2200cc MBR Jimco buggy of Victorian Mark Burrows, and navigator Michael Shannon, led from start to finish.
In second place was Alice's favourite son in the motor industry, Peter Kittle. For Kittle the completion of the race was a thrill in itself, and the second placing, icing on the cake.
The weekend was sweet for Honda when Rick Hall claimed victory on his trusted CR500, over Stephen Greenfield on the highly promoted XR650.
The race down on Sunday proved to be one of pure speed in dust. The pole starter off the grid, Burrows with Shannon set the standard by charging their new 2200 cc MBR Jimco through to Finke in the impressive time of 1.55.23. Burrows had experience to burn on this track, having won his class three times previously and taken out the outright first place, the only buggy till 2002 to have done so. But with the memory of a DNF in 2001 no doubt still indelibly in his mind, he made every post a winner.
Kurt Johannsen, a local lad who has raced for years either in Alice Springs or Yulara colours, was accompanied by Paul Gower in a Scorpion Nissan which followed Burrows to the half way mark. In third place at Apatula was Kittle with navigator Adam Ryan in their "investment", a 3000cc Jimco.
Others to position themselves well into Finke were Tony Byrnes and Chris Smith in ninth place and Bruce Garland in the Holden Rally team entry placed twenty-second.
Despite being heavily punted at the Calcutta, David Fellows came in twenty-third; Bruce Muir and Peter Treis were reasonably placed for their class at thirty-fourth; and paperman Stewy Prichard with John Trezona pulled into Finke in thirty-sixth place. The final vehicle in to Finke was that of Wayne Sanderson and Terry Hird, who were probably still digesting the carbohydrate loading of the night before!
Bad luck came the way of many starters however. Fred Grey and Ronny Kennett were all set to make it this year but with adrenaline raging, Grey could not resist the urge to plant the foot. He burned out his clutch, so the Lions had to limp back to the start line.
Out of Deep Well, Peter Taylor and Troy Annesley lost their forward gears and were forced to reverse back down the track for assistance.
Then, at the first fuel stop Jim Nielson and Shane Ride met their Waterloo when they collided with fellow competitor David McGill from Julia Creek. Further south, at Bundooma, the Mowbrays, Bob and Jeanette, regulars at Finke, took the wrong route and so ruled themselves out of contention. The race home on Sunday morning proved a boom to Burrows and a bust to Johannsen. Only 10 kilometres into the race home, Johannsen was forced to retire, leaving Burrows with the run of the track. The front runner was relentless, his vision dust free for the two hour race to the finish line.
Kittle led the rest of the pack through Deep Well some 12 minutes behind Burrows and duly came home in second place.
Third place across the line went to the winner's brother, Stephen Burrows, in Mark's old 1600cc MBR Cougar.
From Deep Well to the finish the strain of racing took its toll on the field. Wayne Attard, who finished Finke 2001 on three wheels, was this year able to climb over several competitors who were limping to the line and take fourth place. The popular David Fellows followed Attard's big Chevy to the line, with Buddy Crowe from NSW staggering home sixth, with a flat tyre. For the bikes, Finke 2002 proved a real test. With Burrows setting a target of under two hours, the bikes were under pressure from the drop of the flag. The speculation about the performance of the four-stroke Honda XR 650s as against the CR500s was seemingly settled on the downward journey. Rick Hall made full use of the proven CR500, which had been dubbed the "dinosaur", to lead into Finke after starting behind the front runners on the grid. This effort was made more commendable since Hall had to overcome the dust clouds from the pace-makers as he vied for the lead.
His competition came from Brad Williscroft of the Race team who had his KTM 540 in with a real show in second place. Pole starter Mark Sladek, who set the pace, reached the half way mark in third place almost a minute behind Williscroft.
The Race stable and KTM also had Andy Haydn placed well in fifth, while Stephen Greenfield arrived sixth on the flagship Honda 650.
Soon after the start Greenfield's team mate and the reigning champion, Michael Vroom withdrew, with his injured hand not standing up to the rigours of the race. With the passing of time, a further 25 riders registered DNF on the downward trip. By the time the riders faced the return run on Monday, the track had been severely chopped up.
Hall took full advantage of the lead position and created space on Williscroft. Hadyn and Greenfield soon went neck and neck at third and fourth, while Sladeck did his best to stay in contention.
By Ewaninga, Hall prevailed, but coming home like a rocket was Greenfield on his power machine. The Honda 650 moved into second position and must have had Greenfield sensing the outside chance of victory. KTM took the third and fourth money through the agency of the consistent Williscroft and Hadyn. Sladeck gave Kawasaki a look in at fifth and Andy Caldecott, competing in the Masters' Class 7, rode his KTM into sixth place.


Aussie Rules players in the Centre will have the chance in the coming weeks to perform at elite level and display their superior skills.
The Desert Warriors, a representative side drawn from the Country football competition, will field a side this Saturday against the Katherine District Football League, at Traeger Park. As a forerunner the Desert Storm, an Under 17 Country football side, will play an Under 18 side from the Tennant Creek based Barkly Football League.
The Desert Warriors established themselves last year at Traeger Park when they took on and beat the highly regarded Tiwi team from the Top End. The squad for this year's side seems on paper to be even stronger, and with the intensity of the local competition increasing, the task for the selectors has become more demanding.
Conrad Ratara from Western Aranda will coach the Warriors, with able assistance from Sid Anderson of Papunya and Joseph Tapaya from the Pitjantatjara lands.
The game should attract the attention of talent scouts from both south and north, in particular from the AFLNT. In recent times the Thunder have been on the look out for tall mobile players who can match it in the air and on the ground with interstate opponents.
In the Warriors' side are two such players, who despite living in remote communities should be given consideration.
Darren Young is from Santa Teresa and besides playing Saturdays' for Ltyente Apurte, butters up in the CAFL of a Sunday with Federal.
He is a standout recruit for Federal, showing the aerial and ball skills of a future champion.
Also appearing regularly in the best players at CAFL level is Malcolm Ross. South have put him through his paces of a Sunday and he has responded, showing the ability to perform in a variety of positions across the ground. Of a Saturday he dons the Harts Range colours, and it is from this community to the north east that Gilbert and Jason Fishook have gained Warrior selection. These lads and the "veteran" Harts Range stalwart, Donny Scharber, are dynamic contributors in the CAFL competition.
From the Ti Tree Roosters are Anthony and Curtis Haines. Curtis was best player for West last week against Pioneer, going close to best on ground, and his ability in defence will be valued by the Warriors.
The Western Aranda region has in recent years been the backbone for the Rover side of a Sunday and at representative level the likes of Oliver Wheeler, Max Fejo and Geoffrey Inkamala will have their chance to shine.
From the nearby McDonnell Districts Kasman Spencer will be a standout contributor across the half forward line. Weighing up the opposition Katherine have just completed their season and so will be match fit.
They will have strong representation from Ngukurr, who in the past have travelled to Alice Springs for the Lightning Carnival. These Roper River players are a professional team and should give the representative Katherine side the strength to be in the hunt against the Warriors.
For the colts' division, the Desert Storm should also have a good work out against the Barkly Under 18 side. The BAFL are mid way through their season with three games being played on the Sporties Oval every Saturday. Reports are that the Tennant team has taken this game seriously and will have a competitive side run onto Traeger Park Saturday.
On Sunday the CAFL competition continues with the Rovers playing Federal in the late game and a local derby between South and Pioneer being played as a curtain raiser. Form to date suggestes that Pioneer and Rover will take the premiership points, but both games should be keenly contested as it is the last CAFL round before the naming of the Town side to play the Territory Thunder in 10 days' time. Thunder have had a tough but rewarding week on the road in Victoria, which will culminate in their final game this Saturday at the Coburg Oval against the fancied Oakley Chargers.
Returning to the Territory they will be hot to trot, but should face some real opposition in the Alice side under the guidance of Roy Arbon.

LETTERS: Huge NT presence at global showcase.

Sir,- More than 660 of the world's top tourism buyers have been in Brisbane for the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).
Annually ATE showcases the thousands of products that are available to international visitors. The event is split into two modules: Eastern ­ Asia, Japan ­ and Western ­ Europe, UK and the Americas.
The Northern Territory was represented by 35 tour operators with a large proportion of the contingent from Central Australia.
A real taste of the Territory was enjoyed by buyers and sellers at an informal NT "Alley" function where barramundi fish and kangaroo kebabs were cooked Aussie style on the barbecue. The tempting BBQ smells filled the large Brisbane convention centre and drew big crowds on three nights.
Supported by the Northern Territory Tourist Commission staff, all NT sellers reported a high level of interest and good sales prospects for developing growth of international visitors to Central Australia for the coming year.
Minister for Tourism Paul Henderson, the new CEO of the NTTC, Marie Tetlow, and the NTTC international managers worked beside the NT sellers at ATE. ATE is considered by many international buyers to be the best-organised trade show in the world. As an indication of the size of the show buyers will walk over 44 kilometres (30 miles) to meet with sellers.
Many of the buyers have experienced Northern Territory tour products in pre and post familiarisation programs arranged by operators.
The nine day showcase with over 100,000 appointments between buyers and product representatives allowed Central Australia to promote and expand business opportunities highlighting the Year of the Outback and Aboriginal culture.
Renton P. Kelly
VIP Travel Australia Pty Ltd

Sir,- After perusing a column titled "My Town" (Alice News, June 5), I have just three words for your correspondent as she leaves our shores: don't come back.
Addendum: this is so obviously not your town.
D.R. Chewings
Alice Springs

Sir,- I came across these comments of yours (Ann Cloke's in her column, Alice News, March 20) when I was looking for info about Alice Springs ­ we will be there in August:
"Songlines from Alice will endeavour to show urban Australia that the Outback is a part of Oz, and showcase the Centre, and the Outback's unlimited potential and future challenges (Desert Knowledge and Remote Solutions)." When I went to the NT tourist /holiday shop here in Sydney, they assured me there was no such thing as "Songlines from Alice". It was a commercial tour operator. So I am glad I can find out information directly from you.
Kathleen Phillips
Sydney, NSW
[ED ­ Songlines from Alice is the sub-title for Outback Central 2002, the centrepiece of the national Year of the Outback celebrations, scheduled for August 23 to September 1.]

Sir,- I read with interest the article "Centre for Remote Health: A house of ideas" , a part of the advertising supplement to mark the official opening of the Centre (Alice News, April 24).
The article gives a good description of the project with one glaring omission, the architects and principal consultant for the Centre for Remote Health are Woodhead International / Brendan Meney in association.
Woodhead International where engaged by Flinders University and then engaged Brendan Meney to work in association on the project, as we have done on previous projects.
Woodhead International were intimately involved in every aspect of the project from inception, briefing, design and construction.
The article and associated advertising make no mention of our involvement and the record needs to corrected.
Had we been advised of the supplement we would have contributed and placed an ad. You may be interested to know that Woodhead International, which practised as Hunt King-Jones in Alice Springs (1979 - 1993), has now grown to one of Australia's largest international practices. We still have our office in Darwin, under the control of Hans Vos, and operate throughout Australia, Asia, China and The Middle East with associated offices in the UK and the USA. I retain links with Alice and Gary Hunt and I look back on time in Alice as a wonderful part of our lives.
David King-Jones
(ED ­ Mr King-Jones refers to an advertising supplement for which copy was provided by the clients. The News was not made aware of Woodhead's part.)

Sir,- Please convey to Dorothy Grimm my keen appreciation for her articles and reviews in your newspaper.
Even in Centreville, Virginia, I enjoy reading them. My wife Alice and I look forward to visiting your community in the summer of 2003. Thank you.
Jerry Foltz
Centreville, VA, USA

Sir,- I found the latest internet edition especially enjoyable (love the photos and content).
I'm living in New Jersey, about 20 miles from Ground Zero, and having business in many of the older cities in the "Rust Belt" I had to smile at the discussions of the problems of, and with, the "Indigenous".
Over here we have different labels, but the problems, the complaints, the proposed solutions, and the objections thereto, are all hauntingly similar. Keep up the high levels of journalism, while still having fun... would love to share a few pints with you some time, in the Alice. Could you suggest an e-mail "pen pal" in the Alice who would be interested in exchanging their views and comings and goings?? I'm an almost 58 year old male, married, two adult sons by a first marriage, starting over in a new career, with diverse interests.

Sir,- I am most pleased to be able to read about the assorted "problems" in Alice Springs.
The water situation can be related, not only to Australia in general, but also to the world over.
Thanks for letting me eavesdrop on your lives.
Ginnie Sanik
Upstate New York,

Sir,- I read with interest the article by one Glenn Marshall on energy saving in the home.
Here in the UK, the latest thing is to have solar lamps in ones garden or house.
When left in the "on" position, these lamps store energy during the daylight hours and switch on at dusk, and switch off again come the dawn.
A great idea for saving power in one or more rooms.
The lamps have varied prices, though the most popular are the lamp standard for the garden, and coaching, standard, or reading lamps for indoors.
At £50 to £60 each, they pay for themselves during the winter months.
Perhaps some people in Alice Springs would like to invest in such a project.
Herbie Shaw


In a corner of the Bindi workshop for people with a disability, where he's worked since the 1980s, Alyawarre/ Eastern Arrente man Billy Benn began to paint his father's country. He used his fingers, cloth, glue and paint and whatever flat surface appealed. He knew Albert Namatjira's work but had never had any artistic training. What emerged are wonderfully lyrical landscapes, usually in a long low format, reflecting the sweeping spaces of north-eastern Central Australia.
First shown publicly at Watch This Space in an exhibition of work by people with a disability, they were immediately snapped up.
In the few years since, Benn has achieved a national profile, with a recent show at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in Melbourne and acquisitions by the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Growing out of his practice, Bindi has developed an artists'collective, Centa Arts, which opens a show at Araluen this Saturday together with artists from the NPY Women's Council Disability Employment Program.
Benn will be a key drawcard but his is not the only highly original talent of this group.
The work of Seth Namatjira and young Randal Dixon, to name but another two, underlines the worth of supporting the continued practice and development of these artists.


Alice Springs Choral Society's director Ron Klumpes believes in giving his singers a challenge and Sunday's Mozart's Requiem is their latest. Mozart wrote most of the Requiem in the months leading up to his death from rheumatic fever in December 1791 as a commission from a music-loving nobleman who desired to have it performed in memory of the death of his young wife. "The piece is not an easy work to learn," Ron said. "There are lots of harmonies, but I believe in giving singers a chance to stretch a little, to get out of their comfort zone. "I also believe in giving people in the choir a repertoire as well as people in town a chance to see a work like this performed live and by locals. "And the people in the choir are so enthusiastic; it is fun to work with people who want to be here and singing." And members of the Alice Springs Choral Society agree. "The Requiem is a real challenge but oh so beautiful," said Julie Permezel (alto). "The music is so full of life, so vibrant. "I love singing and I love Mozart.
"I conduct the Sadadeen Primary School Choir so I thought being part of a choir myself would help my work. "And I am so happy to be part of this group; they are such a nice bunch of people, so friendly. "I want to do my best so I even practise at home and I listen to the music and think about the work even when I'm cooking. "The Requiem is a work of art and I'm looking forward to Sunday's presentation." Mary Beth Eggen (alto) joined the Choral Society at the beginning of the year.". "I was singing with the OLSH 11am choir and someone said, ŒCome along to the Choral Society and have fun,' so I did. "I used to sing Bob Dylan and the Beatles, not Mozart. This is a big difference. "And then we started singing all this Latin stuff, dona this and dona that. "And I thought who's this dona we are singing about but then Ron passed out translations so we understood. "Initially I thought, ŒThey're never going to pull this off' but the Requiem is really a beautiful piece. "I've become very fond of it.
"And Ron is so good, and has so much patience.
"He makes people think about doing something which they never thought they could.
"And it is all volunteer. "That's the beauty of Alice Springs; you volunteer for one thing and other offers just come along," Mary Beth said. Other newcomers to the Choral Society agree. "I've been singing most of my life," Vicki Adair (alto) said, "but I had forgotten how much fun it was to be part of a group. I saw the group do The Messiah last year and decided this year to get involved." Tenor Dan Ewald has a similar story. "I've sung in choirs for a good 10 years so when I heard about the Choral Society, I decided to join," Dan said. "Besides it is good to have a bellow, to stretch one's diaphragm and give one's voice a workout.
"And the Requiem will give Mozart a stir in his grave." Soprano Pebli Ranzijn says her work with the Choral Society is an opportunity to meditate. "The level of concentration required; the total focus of one's mind combined with breathe control and singing with the group is similar to a form of active meditation," Pebli said.
"And the result is an uplifting sound which in turn uplifts one's spirits. "Singing with the Choral Society helps keep me sane and contributes to the mental health of Alice Springs. "Alice Springs is extremely lucky to have Ron in town." "And the diversity is wonderful," Liz Ellis (alto) added. "In the 1980s I sang at weddings, at garden parties and with a variety of vocal groups at a variety of venues. "But this is the first time I've sung with a Choral Society. "All are enjoyable and all are good learning experiences. "And the more one puts into something, the more one gets out of it." Bob Wharton (bass) said as a newcomer to town he mentioned he was interested in singing and someone suggested he "check out" the Choral Society and he did. "I was very impressed with the high standard and professionalism of the group," Bob said. "And the dedication and hard work of those organising it was equally impressive. "This is the first time I've done Mozart; previously I sang Gilbert and Sullivan.
"This is more disciplined and is an excellent outlet for singing."
Mozart's Requiem will be performed on Sunday at the Catholic Church, Hartley Street, at 2.30pm.
To further enhance Sunday's presentation of Mozart's Requiem, the Choral Society will be joined by an orchestra of 16 including violinist Dian Booth and members of the O'Brien family, Clare (violin), Therese (cello) and Vincent (trombone).


The new convention centre is facing a chicken and egg dilemma that is putting in doubt benefits to the town from the $14m facility, funded mainly with public money.
Convention industry figures say while the centre is equal in standard to others around Australia, there is not enough high-class accommodation to attract the big spenders.
This will restrict the use of the centre to people satisfied with three star rooms ­ already visiting Alice Springs in significant numbers.
While the centre has been touted as a shot in the arm for local hotels and motels feeling the pinch from growing competition by the Ayers Rock Resort, it now seems that significant benefits will not flow unless and until more top-shelf rooms become available.
And these would need to be within walking distance of the centre.
Two conventions of more than 1000 people each have pulled out.
And one organizer, George Parkin of Sydney based BGM, says the local tourism industry's standard of service would need to be lifted.
Mr Parkin, a former motel manager in Alice Springs, says the convention centre is "probably one of the best in Australia" but "the town does not have the infrastructure of four, four and a half star accommodation within walking distance".
"Also, the attitude of some of the operators in Alice Springs is very much, 'she's right, mate'.
"When you go to Ayers Rock and you walk around Yulara, all the staff greet you with 'good afternoon, Sir, can I help you?'"
He says during a site inspection in Alice Springs for a group of 700 people, intending to come for a five-day period, "we did not see that the venue had the support of the operators and of some of the staff within the properties".
"I think Alice Springs tourism has to really get a grasp of what a venue is all about, get a grasp of the standard of the venue, and go up the notch, or two notches, to work within the four and a half, five star market that's offering," says Mr Parkin. Says centre spokesman Andrew Oldfield: "The demand for five star rooms will vary according to the different conferences. "Some want high quality accommodation, some want basic accommodation.
"We've even had a request for backpacker style, it varies.
"Most delegates at conferences have to pay their own accommodation so middle of the range is always most popular and Alice Springs excels at that style of property.
"There will be very few conferences that will demand 1200 five star rooms anywhere in Australia," says Mr Oldfield. "This was considered at planning stage, and it is up to the individual properties if they want to upgrade their hotels or not.
"However the fact the Alice has 1400 rooms of varying standards makes it a very exciting destination.
"If we were to rely on 5 star business only Alice Springs would miss out on a lot of business."
Mr Parkin says he was looking for 485 rooms and "between the three properties within walking distance we can get about 320".
"They have invested in a large convention centre that seats 1200 people [but] they will not be able to cater for the calibre of delegates that actually bring in the big money.
"What it will attract is the three, three and a half star market that you've already got.
"I don't see there is going to be a huge increase in new business coming in.
"We cannot put the destination up to the national board of the organization I was representing.
"The revenue, last year in Melbourne, was half a million dollars in five days."
Angela Bain, who arranges conventions for the Association of Superannuation Funds, says Alice Springs is a "great location" but has been ruled out because of the standard of accommodation.
"My delegates require a five star hotel and there are up to 1100 of them," says Ms Bain.
"It's not that we won't ever go there because facilities will increase with the usage of the convention centre.
"We could all go there, it's just we were worried about the actual standard of [the rooms]." Ms Bain says she could find "about 600" suitable rooms as some of them were "a bit far away from the centre, we would have had to have transfers.
"I try to keep everything within walking distance.
"I'll probably go back and visit in three or four years' time, and once the convention centre is up and running I have full confidence that hotels will pop up.
"It's definitely on the horizon. I think our delegates would love it out there.
"If we had two or three hundred fewer people it would not have been such a major concern."
CATIA manager Craig Catchlove says the centre wasn't expected to hold more than around 700 people but since completion it's been discovered that 1200 will fit into the MacDonnell venue, and 450 into the Ellery room.
"One of the major limiting factors to the size of a convention is accommodation rather than the size of the convention centre.
"A lot of people will be looking at their existing properties for expansion.
"My guess is we will have another 150 to 300 rooms in five years' time.
"It will be so successful that the economics will cry out to someone, let's go for it," says Mr Catchlove.
"You've already got the casino adding another 75 rooms which is doubling their stock.
"The centre will generate a small building boom to ramp up and meet this new demand.
"Let's face it, that's what we wanted the convention centre to do."
Mr Catchlove says it is "disappointing" that at least two conventions have pulled out.
"We're going to lose conventions until we've got the stock."

The owners of the town's most up-market homes are in for some nail biting about what neighbours they may be getting, and our tourism industry will almost certainly lose its last remaining horse trail riding business, when the town's choicest block of land goes under the hammer on July 27.
The two hectares at the top of Cavenagh Crescent ­ affectionately known as Snob Hill ­ will be sold following the death of the land's American owner, Howard Rower, in December 2000. There is much speculation about two consortiums of developers having their eyes on the block. It has great views of the ranges, and backs on to the Overland Telegraph Station national park.
It will be the end of the trail for the last surviving horse riding business between Adelaide and Katherine, says its owner, Harry Osborn, who with his wife Sandy and 14 horses has leased the land for the past nine years.
Harry says there is no other land available from which to realise the dream of thousands of tourists, going for a ride in the outback ­ especially in the picturesque country north of the ranges, featuring creek beds, hills and vantage points for superb views, says Sandy. Andrew Doyle, of Framptons, says he has no idea how much the land is worth, which is why he has proposed an auction. He says the nearest available blocks, roughly one tenth of the size, at the bottom of the hill, are going for around $95,000.
Harry says he's just managed to renew his public liability insurance ­ which has driven many similar businesses to the wall. Sandy says business is booming, with groups of around 10 tourists ­ nearly all from overseas ­ riding most days.

LETTERS: NT Government to act on grog, drugs and street kids, says Toyne.

Sir,- This is an open letter to the people of Alice Springs on crime prevention. It is my belief that politicians should make promises and keep them, so I would like to make some personal and public commitments to you about the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour in Alice Springs. We all know that Alice Springs is a very special community in a very special place.
Few other places can match the level of support we give to each other and our public life, both personally and through our rich diversity of community organisations.
No other place can duplicate the unique culture and landscape of the Aranda people.
However, we also know that the character and lifestyle of our town continues to be blighted by public drunkenness, unacceptably high levels of vandalism and theft, and the hidden influences of drugs. The social and economic cost of these activities and their drain on our public budget is huge and unsustainable. We must act now ­ and now is a good time to act. We have a new government full of energy and desire to achieve. We have a Native Title process which offers much toward the restoring of respect for the Aranda places and traditional authorities at a time when they have been increasingly disrespected by visiting Indigenous people.
The violence associated with heavy drinking has turned our accident and emergency unit at the hospital into something resembling a war zone and produced the nation's worst statistics for chronic disease, law and order breaches, and early death.
For visitors or locals alike, to walk in the streets and public spaces of our town has meant being accosted by beggars, witnessing violence, and feeling unsafe.
The endless talk about the need for action has now ended and, thankfully, we are now acting on public drinking through the 12-month trial brought in by the Liquor Commission.
While it is too early to say what impact the initial measures are going to have, we do know that this effort will have to be sustained for a prolonged period if it is to achieve a lasting effect. We all have to commit to this effort.
We need the support of the public, we need the specialised skills of our government agencies and community organisations, and we need the co-operation of business.
I give you my commitment that I will fully contribute to this campaign, not just over the next 12 months but for as long as it takes to make real progress.
Police and other community agencies have indicated that a lot of our problems with theft and vandalism of property and break and enters of homes are due to street kids. These kids are as young as 10, homeless, and from pretty dysfunctional families. They are tough survivors who live outside our community relations and the law, rather than within them.
There is an understandable frustration on the part of householders and businesses regarding our failure to stop the activities of these kids. There have been calls for the government to take strong enforcement action from some groups and to implement new social programs from others. The reality is that we will probably have to do both. Unless we can get these kids to join our community in a constructive way, punishment by itself will only make them more anti-social.
I have instructed our new Office of Crime Prevention to develop and resource action to intervene with these kids. I commit to the development of positive alternatives for these street kids and, if necessary, to compel them to give serious attention to a new way of living in our community. As a parent of teenage kids in Alice Springs I could only hope that the flirtation that they and their peers had with drugs would not leave them dependent. There are drugs in our town. There is evidence of heavier use of cannabis, and at a younger age, and amphetamines are now a significant presence. We are also seeing more psychotic conditions and suicides associated with heavy drug use in the young.
Our government does not believe that easy access to drugs is helping the quality of life in the Territory and have introduced tough new laws which will attack dealers of drugs in order to reduce supply. We cannot rid the world of drugs but I give you my word that I will work to ensure that our kids have less access to them.
I intend to keep these promises and invite all community leaders to work with me in a spirit of cooperation on these critical community issues. Peter Toyne
Minister for Central Australia.

Sir,- I would like to offer some comments on your recent article titled Living with buffel for over 40 years (Alice News, May 1).
In the interest of conserving our precious Central Australian flora and fauna and a healthy and productive arid zone environment, I have to ask, can't we live without buffel? Greening Australia is not in the pastoral business and we were not around during the 1960s devastating drought years. However, I do know that to their credit, the pastoral industry in Central Australia has become increasingly sophisticated in its approach to land management since the Œsixties, incorporating flora and fauna conservation, erosion control and weed control into mainstream property management practices. Organisations such as the Centralian Land Management Association (CLMA), with the support of pastoralists, have led the way in advocating and skilling-up pastoralists in best practice land management for positive conservation and production outcomes. Pastoralists now have meteorological information at their fingertips to inform long-term management decisions.
With better equipment and improved road transport networks, mustering and trucking cattle off drought-affected properties can today be done with relatively greater ease than in the 1960s.
So isn't it possible that these improved, better-informed land management practices may fortify the pastoral industry from a repeat of the 1960's? It seems a shame, therefore, that some pastoralists must defend the use of buffel grass, or to quote the words of a well-informed local naturalist, the "botanical equivalent of the Cane Toad".
This contemporary dependence on an environmental weed that competes vigorously with native pasture species and increases fuel loads seems somewhat illogical. Hopefully we might also hear from those equally experienced pastoralists who have rejected the short-term promise of buffel grass, believing it is an inferior option to sound management of native pastures. According to Mr Holt, buffel grass is staying put on Delmore Downs. This is sadly not the case across the board. Buffel grass has engulfed large tracts of land in Central Australia and is on the move.
The speed at which this exotic species has spread is frightening to those who appreciate the natural ecosystems of the Centre. Unfortunately for Delmore Downs, buffel grass favours the more fertile and biodiverse land systems, probably the most productive on Mr Holt's property.
There are many initiatives operating throughout the Territory, searching for reliable, palatable species of native grasses, herbs and forbs for use in pasture enhancement or erosion control. The CLMA in Alice Springs and Greening Australia's Rangelands Revegetation Centre in Katherine are just two examples. Others are investigating methods of broad scale physical control and calling on governments to support research into a biological control.
As with so many good initiatives, however, they operate on shoestring budgets and progress is often slow. Without broad community acknowledgement of buffel grass as a threat to Central Australian ecosystems, sufficient funding will never be available to explore feasible alternatives and control measures.
There is no disputing that buffel grass served its purpose in the 1960s when it was sown across vast areas as a dust control measure. But isn't it time we acknowledge that, in many land systems, buffel grass is replacing our rich native landscape and eroding ecosystem robustness? Can't we rely on sound land management practices rather than a quick fix solution that may leave a devastating legacy for the next generation of Central Australians? As a community, we need to decide what we want our landscape to look like and think about the cost of landscape change. I encourage the whole community to seriously consider these issues.
Michelle Rodrigo
Alice Springs Regional Manager
Greening Australia

Amidst union allegations of "a long history of harassment, bullying and intimidation of staff," and accounts from a former principal of meddling by council members in educational issues, former Senator Bob Collins was acting as mediator between the Yipirinya School Council and its striking staff this week.
The appointment of the co-chair of the NT Government's Learning Lessons Implementation Committee heartened union members.
"It shows how seriously our concerns are being taken," said Independent Education Union organiser Simon Hall on Monday.
The IEU was representing some 26 Yipirinya staff, about half of whom are Indigenous.
"The conditions on our members going back to work is that they will not be subject to bullying, harassment or intimidation and that council members do not approach our members about anything outside of work-related issues.
"We also want recognition that it is the role of the principal, not the council, to direct staff in the day to day running of the school."
The name of an alternative short-term principal had been put forward in the hope that the school could resume operations as quickly as possible.
The reinstatement of sacked principal Dianne de Vere was still the subject of an Industrial Relations Commission hearing.
Was Mr Hall confident that the situation could be resolved?
"The council apparently wants to run a school and our members certainly want to educate students. There's joint interest that can be worked on," he said. "The spotlight is on the behaviour of the council. "There has been a long history of harassment, bullying and intimidation of staff. "Following exchanges of views where staff members did not agree with council members, staff members have been followed around as they went about their work. "Other staff have been told they were useless, that they would never get a job anywhere else, that they would be sacked if they carried on as they were. "The principal has been yelled at, had fingers pointed at her at close range. "A former principal was struck by a council member. "Our members are trained professionals. It goes without saying that they should be able to do their job without fearing for themselves or their families." Mr Hall said the introduction of procedures to deal with future problems was vital to a successful resolution of the present conflict.
Meanwhile former Yipirinya principal Fiona McLoughlin, who resigned in 2000 (she was not sacked), says a key problem for the school is the composition of its council. The constitution only allows parents of students enrolled at the school to be council members. "Over the past eight years this has enabled certain members to take great control of the school operation," says Mrs McLoughlin. "Some council members are also staff members. "This has led to conflict of interest on numerous occasions, and the students' education and well-being were not always at the forefront of decision-making by the council.
"The stranglehold of certain entities at school council level increasingly became an issue during the time I served as principal, as I tried to challenge the constitutional dilemma." Mrs McLoughlin says she informed the school's major funding agency, the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), that a constitutional change was necessary. She suggested outside representation of a few Indigenous people with a background and interest in education ("of whom there are many in our community") could assist the council to operate the school as the complex business it had become.
This advice was not even acknowledged, much less acted on. Says Mrs McLoughlin: "Had it been, the subsequent perpetuation of issues which are currently facing the school, like lack of policies, nepotism, actions of self interest, financial problems as well as intimidation and violation of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, could have been circumvented. "The council has absolute power and despite the efforts of many Indigenous families to be elected and speak up in ways to benefit the school and the students, the constitution is flawed and must be changed." The Alice News asked DEST Minister Brendan Nelson why this advice had apparently been ignored and the once proud Yipirinya School been allowed to founder, putting in jeopardy the education and well-being of hundreds of Indigenous children in Alice Springs? A spokesperson told the News that the Minister was watching the situation at Yipirinya "carefully and with considerable concern", but believed it would not be helpful to have a "blow by blow dissection in the media". The News stressed that its question was one about departmental responsibility. Surely the Minister should have something to say about that? "I can only reiterate the Minister's concern," said the spokesperson. Why wasn't the Minister "concerned" at the time to act on the advice of a committed professional? "I can only reiterate the Minister's concern," said the spokesperson. He also said departmental representatives would be meeting with the school council early this week, looking for "constructive outcomes and a way forward." Mr Hall said he understands DEST has recommended constitutional change. He said the IEU had also expressed its concern in the past about this issue and would be raising it again with Bob Collins, although "constitutional change it is not within our brief". Mrs McLoughlin says the current situation at the school "in a way has had to happen, so that effective change can be realised, which will benefit the students and the staff at the school". "Each day you see many Indigenous children not attending school, some of whom used to attend Yipirinya. "As a community we need to assist Yipirinya to become strong again. "It is crucial for young disadvantaged Indigenous children (often from dysfunctional and difficult circumstances) to attend a school every day, which teaches them to respect themselves, their culture, respect others and learn the many skills necessary to succeed and contribute positively to our community." VITAL ROLE She says Yipirinya School, which over its 24 years of operation had achieved status as an icon in Indigenous education, has the potential to again play a vital role in educating students. In 2000, while Mrs McLoughlin was still principal, 220 students were enrolled, with many attending every day.
The school also operated a popular child care centre and had plans to develop a secondary school. She says the Language and Cultural Program which teaches children in the four main languages of the area ­ Central Arrernte, Western Arrernte, Warlpiri and Luritja ­ employed well-credentialled Indigenous teachers to deliver quality classroom programs. "These teachers were invited to a major presentation at Melbourne University in that year and were commended for their curriculum content and innovative methods."
In September 2000 the school won a major National Literacy Award for student literacy outcomes using the University of Canberra's Scaffolding Literacy approach. (This approach is now being trialled extensively in Territory government schools.)
Yipirinya was identified as a school of "Best Practice" by DEETYA (now DEST) which led to Mrs McLoughlin and council representatives delivering a major presentation at a national conference.
Bob Collins' Learning Lessons review also acknowledged the school as a site of "good practice". "Many of the recommendations from the Collins review were already being practised at Yipirinya and had been previously," says Mrs McLoughlin. "The school at the time had many excellent hard working and committed staff, 75 per cent of whom were Indigenous, who worked tirelessly to provide the best possible education for the students."


Interest in horticulture in Central Australia is blossoming. In the last four years full-time lecturers in horticulture at Centralian College have gone from two to five, and even five cannot meet all current demand. Eighteen months ago there was one horticultural apprentice.
There have never been more than two on the books. Now there are 12.
A further five students are enrolled full-time in the certificate course. In the past three years 30 have graduated. All bar one are now employed in the horticulture industry in Central Australia, whether on the farms at Ti-Tree, local nurseries, the Desert Park or Territory Lettuce.
Some students are also enrolled in specific modules. For instance, anyone involved in commercial spraying of weedicides must complete the Chemcert offered at the college before they are eligible for a contractor's licence. And then there are the home gardeners: over 60 of them turned up for a recent Saturday morning permaculture workshop, creating a community garden on the corner of Gap Road and Breaden Street.
Meanwhile, there's a new request for training just about every week from bush communities.
College lecturers travel to deliver training in situ, from Finke on the SA border, to Ti-Tree in the north, west to Hermannsburg, Laramba and Yuendumu, east to Utopia and Ambalindum.
"There would be about 60 students on communities enrolled in the certificate course," says senior lecturer Geoff Miers.
"We need a minimum of 10 to 12 per community to be able to deliver the course. "One lecturer has just finished at Sandy Bore, now he'll move across to Santa Teresa. "The interest is varied. Some communities are focussed on beautification and revegetation, others are interested in establishing community gardens and orchards."
The citrus orchard at Titjikala is now four and a half years old. Out of the original 100 trees planted, 97 are still growing well. There are also some 50 vines and a large area planted out with rockmelons, watermelons and pumpkins. Mr Miers returned last week for the first time in three and a half years: "I was very impressed with the quality of the trees.
"They have small shade houses where they propagate seedlings and while I was there they were tilling the soil, getting it ready to put in a winter crop." At Injartnama, there is a two year old citrus orchard, again 100 trees, interplanted with bush raisin, rockmelons, pumpkins and tomatoes. There is also a small quandong orchard. Most of the produce is consumed by the community, but at times they have been able to sell their surplus at Hermannsburg.
Lecturers visit communities periodically for short top-up training. During last week's trip to Oak Valley, Titjikala and Finke, for example, Mr Miers gave pruning demonstrations and offered other technical advice. "What I would like to see in future is some funding to employ a roving technical officer. There is a desperate need for the position. People need analysis of their plantings. For example, is their citrus zinc deficient?" Are there any commercial scale gardens in the bush? Mr Miers says there are some "in the wings". "But if you are able to meet the fresh produce needs of a community of 150 people, then I class that as an enterprise, and one which could contribute importantly to improved health in that community." This burgeoning of interest started from a small base.
Following a workshop in November, 2000 a poster was produced outlining seven steps to start a community garden. Under each heading, the poster listed important contact points and phone numbers, for example of PAWA, the Department of Community Development, Centralian College, Tangentyere Council and so on. Mr Miers is convinced that there is huge potential for expansion. "The resources and labour are there and with the right training and initial funding support, I'm confident good enterprises could be set up. "Titjikala has not had any big grants and four years down the track they have quite a productive garden and are largely self-sufficient." Some areas, of course, will be limited by their water supply and soil quality.
"If you only get one and a half litres per second from your bore, you'll only ever be able to have a small garden. "But if you can get eight litres per second and there's good depth, you can put a large area under cultivation." Soil quality can vary considerably within a small area. Mr Miers has just tested a garden where the soil showed 9000 per million parts salt, "almost as salty as the sea".
"They'll never be able to successfully plant in that soil, but I've identified and recommended a new area nearby which should work well."

COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: Truth or dare.
Only three sleeps to go until we fly out.
Another party at the weekend, this time at home. A big thank you to the Deloitte team ­ good company, great music (thanks to Jim and Dave) and food (hot and hearty, thanks Pam). Emma, my niece, now 18 and finally legal, and her special friend, Davin, looked after thirsty revellers.
Throw in three surprise guests, all of whom used to live and work in Alice, Adam and Shira, now based in Sydney, and Jason, residing in the heart of Melbourne, who thought it would be fun to come up and join in the celebrations with their former boss and mentor, David, and we had the recipe for a super night.
"So what's the most momentous thing about coming back to the Alice?" I asked our out-of-towners when they dropped in, with Sammy, for a "hair of the dog" on Saturday. They each said they'd forgotten about our Indigenous presence. They mentioned the lack of hygiene, the anti-social behaviour in general and the fact that the number of people loitering seemed greater than they remembered.
Adam mentioned that he and Shira promote the Alice whenever they can. Shira wondered how friends, who are visiting the Alice later this month, will react to the sight of dozens of Indigenous people, many intoxicated, some abusive, who have taken over the town centre.
Shira hails from Los Angeles and has lived in many multi-cultural societies, but as she said, the people here are certainly different!
Charles Dickens wrote of "Do not expectorate on the pavement" signs hanging in public places. We see today "Refusal may offend", pertaining to the cashing of cheques, or "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" outside some establishments. Why not a few which deal with hygiene?
"Filthy patrons will not be served, wash before you enter".
What's wrong with admitting that some smells are offensive? I can hear that "WHERE can people wash?" There are public facilities available for the use of travellers. Is it time to play truth or dare?
The TRUTH is that we know that unless there is immediate change, the anti-social behaviour of certain sectors of our community will reach out of control proportions. The townspeople want action and tougher legislation to deal with the nasties.
Various Government departments are allocated millions of dollars annually to conduct surveys and studies into this problem or that solution ­ is it viable, will it work? Often, the findings are not made public. In The Australian (Dec 28, 2001) a column was headed "Aboriginal Health Must Improve", and a New Year's resolution was proposed by someone living somewhere in Sydney, to "fix Aboriginal health".
Australia's Indigenous people have the poorest standard of health of people anywhere in the world. Everyone talks in and around the issues ­ no-one asks WHY, why do our Indigenous people have such poor health?
Minister John Ah Kit has made inspiring speeches promising reform to assist Aboriginal Territorians become part of mainstream society, but nothing seems to be happening. When Imparja Television first went to air, a series of ads, aimed primarily at young Indigenous viewers, were broadcast. Images showed children, of all ages and nationalities, enjoying bath-time and soap suds, children picking oranges, peeling them, enjoying the fruits of their labours, children sitting in classrooms enjoying lessons: wholesome images open to whatever interpretation. There is a need to go right back to basics ­ instil in children the rudiments of cleanliness, hygiene, social learning skills, the difference between right and wrong, between behaviour that's acceptable and behaviour that isn't.
The majority of the critics and people pointing fingers at our particular sets of social problems do not live here. Leaders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, say that education is the key to a brighter future.
A "one rule for all" policy (every child must attend school; if necessary, buses will collect the children; truancy laws will be enforced) would be a step in the right direction.
The problems are colossal and proposals for change must be broken down into manageable "bite-sized" pieces. What can be achieved today?
An article in The Weekend Oz (April 2), "Resettlement tethers ancient nomads to modern misery", alluded to the end of the Kalahari bushmen's days of hunting and gathering and talked of the decision by the Government of Botswana, Southern Africa, to stop funding a minority's lifestyle. The costs have become prohibitive and are no longer affordable. The article went on, "all children, particularly children of the Bushmen MUST go to school". It also stated that "a nomadic lifestyle is no longer feasible" and that "assimilation is the only way forward"E
The actions of the (black) African government have drawn much criticism globally but the critics don't have to live with the on-going financial burden and cultural issues. The reforms have been introduced by people living in the region and with the problems: by the people, for the people.
There have been questions of corruption raised about mining claims, but in the main, it is acknowledged that this forced assimilation is a positive move to ensure that these people become part of the majority rather than continuing to be a dependent minority, existing on the fringes of society and caught between tradition and tomorrowE There's been a huge shift since "The Gods Must Be Crazy" graced our screens.
Sunday afternoon and we wandered over to the Olive Pink Reserve ­ dozens of people admiring Philomena and Milena's beautiful wearable works of art, Proper Flash, being modelled against a backdrop of gardens, rocky outcrops, big blue skies and dazzling sunshine.
Fran, our Mayor, listed cleaning up the Todd and eliminating anti-social behaviour around the town as key concerns when she was running for the Mayoral seat. The dare, the challenge, is for our elected members to come up with some answers, to implement by-laws and bring about reforms which will ensure that the town has a positive future. It would be great to come home to a prouder, cleaner Alice Springs Eone in which everyone, black, white and brindled, co-exists in harmony, continuing to enjoy this wonderful lifestyle with the knowledge that there is a future here for all of us. What a thought! One I will relish as David and I promote the Alice all around the UK and Europe. The powers that be have a couple of months to get things back on track ­ we'll be back, and we'll be checking EIn the meantime, stay well. Cheers!


The majority of feature events planned for this year's Alice Springs Festival are still unfunded, less than three months out from the festival launch on August 23. Watch This Space are the lucky recipients of what appears to be the only arts allocation from the NT Government's Year of the Outback (YOTO) special grants round of $150,000 to community groups. Even the Space did not get as much as they need to stage the second Outsite, a national sculpture prize. The inaugural Outsite, at the Desert Park, was one of the highlights of last year's festival, for its innovative concept, the high quality of exhibits, and the large audience it attracted. Most of the events on this year's program had applied for funding support to the special grants round. The festival itself has been assigned a budget Outback Central 2002, drawing its million dollar allocation to produce and manage the Desert Knowledge Symposium (August 25-29); the Outback Expo (August 26-29), involving communities from around the country; and the Alice Springs Festival. However, the extent of the festival's allocation is still uncertain. A director, Harriet Gaffney, has been engaged for 25 weeks, a contract that began in the second week of May, and there will be money to pay for a part-time administrative assistant, as well as a small amount to support programming.
But more than a small amount is needed for a 10-day festival worthy of the name. Dust Up, planned as a major collaborative multi-arts event with a youth focus, to link in with the national Youth Muster being organised and funded by the National Museum of Australia, applied for funding to the Australia Council's New Audience Development board. They have been knocked back.
The Alice Springs Youth Arts Group planned to participate in Dust Up and also stage an event of their own titled Colour Bind, Colour Blind. They applied to the special grants round and have been knocked back.
So while youth from around Australia converge on Alice Springs, both in the flesh and in cyberspace, our youth, instead of being able to strut their stuff, may well be just going about business as usual. Red Dust Theatre, after their outstanding success at this year's Adelaide Festival, have received no funding under the same special grants round for their new production, Lola in a bathtub by Ann Harris. C-Mob, a talented group of young Alice born and bred rappers, has received no funding. A collaborative concert of regional and local musicians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to be produced by CAAMA, is currently without funding. The festival's closing event, Desert Song, bringing together for the first time ever choirs from remote communities, is still awaiting news on funding from Festivals Australia. This event requires its own artistic director and considerable logistical support. "At the moment we're running on faith ­ we have enormous belief in our product," says Ms Gaffney.
"We're hoping to get corporate sponsorship for some events and we may yet get some arts funding for others, but these decisions are probably still a month away. Unfortunately this leaves artists with very little lead-up time.
"A festival is only as strong as its program of events.
"The rejection of funding applications on such a broad scale, just when Alice Springs is to be the focus of national and international attention, has been a real blow. "There is a lack of understanding out there about the role of arts and culture in local and regional economies. "Communities in the arid zone, where most outback communities are, won't survive as good places to live without a vibrant cultural life. And that doesn't just happen on its own."
Clive Scollay, executive director of Outback Central, says he sees the festival as a core part of Outback central activities. "We're relying very much on that program of key events. "We are actively seeking to add to federal funds and we are also in discussions with high-profile sponsors." The bright note at this point is the Moonlight Madness Ball, which will launch the festival. It will be held at the new Convention Centre, which has promised considerable in-kind corporate support, and Yalumba Wines looks set to again be a major sponsor. The ball also generates income, which can be used to support other events.
And luckily some events on the program, such as the opening of the annual Desert Mob exhibition, the writers' event, the Irrkerlantye Youth Film Festival, and the opening of Gallery Gondwana's Maningrida/NPY show, are already wholly or partially funded.
"Last year's festival had similar lead-up problems but still managed to create a great program and atmosphere," says Ms Gaffney.
"Chair of the festival's steering committee, Sonja Maclean de Silva, has done a fantastic job laying the groundwork for this year's festival. "Now it's time for our efforts, the efforts of all the committed artists in Alice Springs, to be met half way so that we can produce a festival of the calibre we know we are capable of. "The Alice Springs Festival acts as a showcase for both the incredible wealth of talent in this region and our fantastic environment.
"In this Year of the Outback it would be a real pity if funding bodies did not recognise the potential at hand here and pitch in their support."


The leadership was never something she "plotted and planned for". KIERAN FINNANE talks exclusively to Chief Minister Clare Martin. See Parts One and Two in Alice News issues of May 15 and 29.

Clare Martin won her first term in the parliament by just 69 votes. Far from having designs on the top job, she saw her priority as holding onto the seat of Fannie Bay. "I became the most consistent doorknocker," she told the News last week. Does she like doorknocking and going now to what must be an endless round of events?
"You have a vision for the Territory but it's got to be grounded in what people want. So I always found going to events and doorknocking shaped the kind of priorities that I had. They can't be out of kilter with what the community wants.
"Doorknocking is not a nuisance. It's a time when you can talk to people about what their aspirations are, what they see as going wrong, what they see as going right. "One of the good things about Fannie Bay is that you have a real range of people who live there.
"You've got a lot of professional managerial people who were very happy to take me into their lounge rooms and talk to me about how their businesses were going, how they thought the government should change, what their focuses were.
"That was really valuable for me, a big learning experience.
"There were also a lot of people who lived on benefits of various kinds, in public housing, who were really Œseat of the pants' people.
"Doorknocking gave you a real insight into where the community was going." For any Territory politician, being in touch with the aspirations of Indigenous people is also important. How does she do that? "Quite a lot of Indigenous people live in Fannie Bay.
"I also worked from the start in a caucus where my colleagues, five of them, had large remote electorates. Caucus visited those, but also we talked about them every time we met. "Caucus was very instructive from that point of view. You sat down with someone like Jack Ah Kit, Syd Stirling or Peter Toyne, Maggie Hickey and you realised there was a very different world outside Darwin, not different priorities in themselves, but different needs within those priorities."
(Now John Ah Kit is a Minister in her government, and is joined in the parliament by Indigenous members Elliot McAdam, Marion Scrymgour and Matthew Bonson.) Ms Martin held on to her seat at the next general election, in August 1997, but Labor, under Maggie Hickey, lost badly. Did Ms Martin then set out to become leader? "No, I really never set out to be leader. I knew that one day I might, because given the Territory context you really needed to be a Darwin-based leader.
"I never plotted or planned. When unexpectedly Maggie Hickey resigned, it was discussed with me that I should put my hand up. I got the unanimous support of my colleagues." That was early February, 1999. The next election was due in two and half years. Being a woman obviously wasn't seen as an impediment by Labor, but what about in the Territory? Was it an issue they thought about? "I think there was a feeling that, as the Territory is 53 per cent male and is seen more as a man's place ­ which I always dispute anyway, but it's a perception ­ it would be harder for a woman.
"But it wasn't something that I was ever going to see as an impediment. "There was a lot of good will in the party about let's get on and start thinking about how we'll win the next election.
"That's why I took on the leadership, I didn't ever take it on to be a good opposition leader. I had a reality check on that but I believe very strongly that you have to set out to win." The Territory has a very different constituency from all other jurisdictions in Australia. What does Labor stand for in the Territory? "Labor's core issues are relevant to the Territory: how you build jobs, the health system you provide, the education system you provide.
"The other major issues here are around how we manage in the whole Indigenous area and particularly on the issues of land rights and native title. "I believed Labor had a much better fundamental approach to resolving those issues, taking the ideology and the confrontation out of them. "It's been really exciting to get into government and see that you are able to do that, it wasn't just a theory. "The harm and division that I saw particularly in the Œeighties, both to our community and to how those outside looked at us, to be able to start changing that is a real driver for me." Although she went into the election widely recognised as Labor's most popular leader to date, no one quite expected the win. The party's own polling did not indicate that they would get the eight per cent swing in Darwin.
"I was genuinely surprised.
"We'd done a lot of work, we'd certainly examined our weaknesses and set about tackling those, looking at everything from policy to how we sold the message.
"We'd done a lot of consultation, started producing our New Directions Papers, which we'd taken around the Territory.
"We were very clearly defining what Labor was about, but if you haven't won in 25 years, and when you thought about the number of seats needed, it was a big ask.
"I think the swing was a combination of the CLP losing touch and Labor being in a position to be trusted with a vote. Traditional political analysis says that governments lose, but oppositions have to be trusted to take on government."
How much was the swing a vote for Clare Martin as leader? "I honestly don't know, and we haven't done any polling that could tell you, but we ran 'Clare Martin as leader' very hard, on the posters around Darwin and Alice Springs.
"We certainly used the high profile I'd achieved as part of our campaign." How had she managed to create that profile? What were people interested in? "I had been around Darwin and the Territory since 1983. I knew a lot of people.
"I worked very hard as Opposition Leader and previously as member, going to functions, meeting people, meeting with lobby groups.
"I certainly didn't back off when I had media opportunities." Media opportunities favoured her. Her journalistic background helped her put on a polished performance, and it didn't hurt being a woman. The cowboy image of her opponents started to look rather worn, but she says she was careful about playing the woman angle. "I didn't run gender as an issue. A woman had never led Labor to a victory in Australia and in the Territory it could have seemed even less likely.
"I was very careful about running a strong Labor agenda, as opposed to any specific women's agenda.
"But now that I've got to leadership, one of the things that has really gratified me is how delighted Territory women are with having a female Chief Minister. "It's something that's taken me a bit by surprise, young women coming up to me at places like Casuarina Square and saying, 'Can I shake your hand, I'm really delighted you are Chief Minister'.
"Women in a variety of ethnic communities have been absolutely delighted to have a female Chief Minister.
"The Territory has always been seen as very much a male place, and the win has been a really strong recognition that there are women here, there are a whole lot of women doing really amazing things, and we are holding up just under half of the sky." How much of an adjustment was it to move from being Leader of the Opposition to Chief Minister? "The change is learning all about how government runs and then just the details, from how cabinet works to the level of ministerial correspondence that lands on your desk every day. It's about how you put effective decision-making into place, how you translate the intensive policy work we had done in opposition into government.
"You move up a floor in Parliament House, from fourth to fifth (laughs).
"It's an adjustment that you make day by day.
"I think one of the bonuses is the greater level of support you get and I was really gratified by the way the public service supported the new government.
"Every day I reckon I learn something new. "And every day it's an enormous challenge." Is she there for the long haul? "At the moment, I'm so engrossed in the day to day that I'm just looking at the short term. "I'm turning 50 next month, I still see myself as pretty young, full of energy but I've also got a very strong view that people shouldn't stay in parliament for too long.
"I've always thought that three terms seemed like a pretty good commitment from anyone. I've done nearly seven years. Three full terms, being 12 years, I would see as a maximum.
"But I take it day by day, you've got to have the confidence of the electorate, and certainly as Chief Minister I've got to have the confidence of my colleagues."


A year ago 12,000 faithful Finke followers faced a weekend of rain, mud, and slush. For competitors the Monday return leg proved to be an absolute nightmare, with vehicles limping home like war-torn comrades seeking the security of the finish line. This year it seems Finke will present a different challenge. In the "whoops" the bulldust is sitting in billabong proportions, waiting to trap the unsuspecting. In other sections the track is lightning fast, tempting the field to let the throttle right out.
Finke 2002 seems set for a fast "take no prisoners" dash with the car entrants vying for Australian Off Road Championship points. This is the inaugural year of Finke being a part of the national championship, which lifts the whole profile of the event. Over a quarter of a million website hits are expected from fans sitting in the comfort of their home offices around the globe, thinking of Finke. Trackside some 270 bikes and a little under 100 four wheelers will cross the Start line in the perilous push 230 kilometres south to the community of Apatula (Finke), where they will rest overnight and prepare for the homeward journey the next day.
Along the way thousands of campers will take in the race and the ambience of the bush. Many campsites are now traditional venues, claimed by the legends of the spectating sector for the weekend. Others will be those of casual observers who simply drive south and find a suitable spot to roll out the swag. At Cotter's camp features of past Finkes have included television for the footy fans, a billiard table, and pizzas delivered from town. This year Michael and his mates have gone a step further. They had lawn mowers and whipper snippers clear the area so as to accommodate a Bocce field, for a little friendly exercise while "roughing it".
In the run up to the weekend, the Todd Tavern will host a Calcutta tomorrow night, when punters will be able to"buy" a rider or driver.
Scrutineering at Blatherskite Park begins at 5pm on Friday.
From there the action moves south to the Start Finish line. Saturday's Prologue is structured for the family, with free admission. The Prologue gives spectators an insight to the chances of the field, as entrants put themselves through a sprint to determine grid placings for the Sunday start. From 7.30am on Sunday the Finke of 2002 will get underway, with check points, fuel and water stops at Deep Well, Rodinga, Bundooma, and Mt Squires.
The cars are going into this year's Finke as the favourites to conquer the conditions.
In the Single-seater Buggies Class to 6000cc, David Fellows will head up the local chances. He's finished on the podium in the past and knows what is required.
Bernard Singer from Indulkana has again entered, as have Ray Farrows and Craig Downs.
Julia Creek, over the border in Queensland, will be represented by David McGill, Ian Larkins and Chris Sollit, while Bill Hall will come in from Mysterton in Queensland. A notable absentee from the single-seaters will be Paul Simpson, who for years has vied for line honours.
In Class One, the Buggies up to 6000cc, former winners Mark Burrows and Michael Shannon will again be at the start line in their MBR Jimco, which is normally garaged in Burrumbeet, Victoria. No doubt the Burrows team will be hot favourites again, but will be faced with opposition from both interstate and Alice Springs.
Bob and Janette Mowbray from Riverstone NSW will again be in the hunt in their Jimco; Eric Smidt returns yet again in his Volkswagen from Hope Valley in S.A.; the teams of Murray Rae / Paul Bennett, and Trevor and Gary Brebner have entered from Mt Isa; and Brian Robinson / Paul Currie have done so from Waterman, WA, as part of the 29 strong class field.
Adding to the flavour will be locals Peter Kittle and Adam Ryan. Kittle has been a staunch supporter of Finke and in recent years has lost a few hairs in trying to put together a race winner.
James Nielson and Shane Ride joined the Buggy class for 2002, as have Fred Grey and Ronny Kennett. Grey and Kennett carry the local Lions colours for the event, and will be doing their best to see the wheels stay on their Southern Cross Mark 11. The Buggies up to 1600cc have attracted 10 entries from interstate including Stephen Burrows of Burrumbeet. In terms of local participation, the accountant John Trezona has teamed up with paperman Stewy Pritchard to race a 1600 Southern Cross.
Greg Hicks and Kylie Bell have prepared a Challenger 1600. Chris Coulthard and Matt Wharton, who is better known in a horse saddle, are revved up. Anthony and Jo Coulthard; Vee Wee experts from Autocraft, Gary and Kaye Nicolle; and Two Dogs Racing, Bill Yan and Scott Brealey, will see the Centre well represented.
The Four Wheel Drive Class up to 6000cc were the true survivors of Finke 2001. Bruce Garland, last year accompanied by Harry Suzuki, grew an extra leg in the run home as others staggered through the mud and slush. This year may well be a different story, but Garland, and the Holden Rally Team will again feature in the Finke, this year with navigator Wayne Webster. Otherwise local mates Bruce Muir and Peter Treis have teamed up to propel a Nissan Ute through the whoops; and Mark Booth and Brendan McGrath will pilot a Nissan Patrol Wagon.
An interesting entrant is Stuart Zlotkowsky who hails from Wollogorang in the Gulf country. This year he has a partner in Tod Fleming, and they will race their household favourite, an 1800cc Subaru. In the field of Two Wheel Drive Baja Modified 4001 to 6000cc vehicles are some local living legends. Danny Reidy and Danny Hayes will take to a Holden Rodeo; Glenn and Ross Wallace will be in a Ford Ute; Peter Taylor and Troy Annesley have gone for a Nissan Ute; Damien Aspinall and Troy Camileri have opted for a Mitsubishi; Chris and Lawence Wallace are powered by Ford; and Steve Jentsch, along with journo Mark Wilton, have stuck with the power of the Chevy.
The Two Wheel Drive Baja Modified Class up to 4000cc again sees strong local representation. Two veterans, Wayne Sanderson and Terry Hird, will strap themselves into a Toyota Twin cab; Julie Wallace and Rob Pearson are pinning their hopes on a Nissan Ute; Andrew Mowles has stuck to his VW Beetle and will race with Grant Whan. In a 1974 Datsun Matthew Lawrence and Simon Frederiksen will mount a challenge; and Chris Ryan will team up with Grant Ballantine in a Mitsubishi; while Neil Hind and Ken Wegert will race a Nissan.
The Class Five entries also pose a degree of intrigue. From Centralian College, Vic Varley and John Mason have teamed to drive a Holden Ute; David Totani and Phil Kershaw will be in a Nissan; and Yvonne Johnston will pilot a Chevy with navigator Jeff De Soyres. Larry Zaglas will again battle the Finke with Rod Lutwyche in a Ford, while from Brookvale NSW Graham Lees has entered with Angus Laird in a Porsche Coupe.
In the Bike Classes the pace is just as hot! While the big guns have this year opted for state of the art four cylinders, Class One is again dominated by the trusty Honda CR500s. No less than 17 CR500s will line up in the class, which has attracted 21 starters.
Noted riders who should be prominent are past winner Ricky Hall, Mark Harvey, Alan Nicol, and Steven Severin. Providing plenty of opposition will be Mark Sladek and Brenton Tobin on Kawasakis; and Daniel Merino and Alan McGuire representing KTM.
The Four Strokes form Class Two and it is from this class that an outright winner may well emerge. Michael Vroom and Stephen Greenfield have both stepped up to the Honda XR 650 and their performances will be keenly observed.
From the local Race stable Andy Hayden has returned and on his KTM 520 SX will be a firm consideration. Promoting the KTM brand name will also be Brad Wiliscroft and Shane Magnusson from NSW, Haydon Montgomery from Roxby Downs, Steve Douglas of Yulara, Darwin's Alan Henderson, James Creber of Rosebery, and Colin Lawson from Atherton, Qld..
With 70 entries in the Class, the Four Strokes will certainly head the list of "must watch" vehicles.
Class Three is for Two Strokes up to 250cc and with 26 nominees the racing should be fierce. Gavin Chapman heads up the KTM representation from the Race Motorcycles stable. In opposition he has Ben Brooks and Cody Goodwin on Honda CR250s; Lenny Cole racing a Kawasaki KX250; Andrew Coates on a Suzuki; and Clint Allen and William Willis from the popular Pine Gap Desert Race Team.
In Class Four two strokes up to 200cc compete. Ben Neck will carry the family name on a Honda CR 125. Josh Briskey from Katherine will be worth watching on his KTM 125SX, as will Aaron Butler out of the Race stable. The Suzuki name is featured in Class Five for Four Strokes up to 400 cc.
Desert Edge's Damian McGrath heads the nominations along with the entry of two female Suzuki riders, Sonia Empson and Judi Bissell. Again the Pine Gap team are prominent with four entries, Aaron Hughes, Wayne Bennett, Mark Guzman and Richard Wehipeihana.
The Masters battle for honours in the Class Seven. It is here that patrons will see some real class. Phil Lovett, a legend in the sport, has come from Cessnock with his KTM 520 EXC. Andy Caldecott from Keith has KTM power, as has Darren Griffiths from the West. John Bridgefoot, who races the Darwin circuit and teaches 16 year olds the road rules around town, has entered on his Honda XR 650.
Pine Gap are in their element with entries from Stephen Briggs, Kevin Hargrave, John Sisko, Steve Noble, John Lowrance, and Graham Elliott.
On a local note our chances in the Veterans Class for over 45 year olds rest with Derek Poolier, Bryan Cartwright and Glen Auricht. These fellows take their sport seriously, despite their age, and give Finke a sense of decorum!
Completing the field are the Outfits, made up of a staunch contingent from the Barossa Valley and country SA. This year there are eight entries in the Class, which always attracts attention. All seems ideally placed now for a Finke to remember.


By PAUL FITZSIMONS Pioneer, the lethal legends of Aussie Rules in Alice Springs struck in the third term at Traeger Park on the weekend and took home a win they will cherish as the 2002 season unfolds.
The Eagles were pitted against West who beat them at their last encounter and looked to be well on the way to repeating the dose before the Pioneer turn-around.
At the final siren Pioneer scored 16.5 (101) to West's 10.10 (70). Earlier in the day Federal gave South a real fright before the Roos were able to gain some momentum and win 14.8 (92) to 12.8 (80). The curtain raiser was toted to be a close affair and when South ran on minus Herman Sampson, Adrian McAdam, Clinton Pepperill and Shane Hayes it was obvious they were short on manpower.
Shane McMasters also registered as the Roo coach for the day as Shaun Cusack wisely opted to play without the responsibility of calling the changes. Feds jumped Souths early with Darren Young establishing command at the centre bounces and putting the ball down the throats of the running players. By the first change the Demons, in new strip, held a 3.1 to 2.1 lead. In the second term Federal added five goals to South's two, with Daryl Ryder, Farron Gorey and Daniel Palmer calling the shots and Young playing like a dynamo. In fact the Demons extended their lead early in the third term to lead by seven goals and were looking the winners, with Troy Erlandson starring on the half forward flank. Alas inexplicably, after South countered with two goals, the Feds went to water.
Nigel Lockyer gained control in the centre and Willy Tilmouth found touch, driving the ball well into the Roos territory. By the three quarter break only three goals separated the teams, with Federal on 11.6 to South's 8.6. In the run home Federal still seemed favourites but a succession of fine passes to find Trevor Presley in front of goals soon put paid the Feds' chances.
The Roos got their tails up and sniffed victory. Any Federal attack was repelled by Donny Scharber, and Bradley Braun, Lionel Buzzacott and Malcolm Ross took control in South's forward zone. The Roos rattled home winners by 12 points and were glad to have saved their bacon when the final bell rang. Trevor Presley ended the day with four goals. Bradley Braun kicked two and eight others scored individual goals. Their best man was Donny Scharber, with Lloyd Stockman, Buzzacott, Presley, Ross and Tilmouth worthy of mention. For Federal the loss was a bitter pill to swallow. Graham Hayes played well, as did Jason Fishook, Darren Young, Glen Moreen, Farron Gorey and Troy Erlandson, who top scored with three goals. In the late game, Pioneer ran with West and took the rough and tumble of the physical encounter in their stride. They established a five-point lead at the first break, but then surrendered the lead in the second term to allow West to hold sway by seven points at the big break.
It was in the third term that the game was there to be won and Pioneer wasted no time in booting three successive goals before the Bloods countered. With little separating the sides, Pioneer then received a concerted boost from Craig Turner, Ryan Mallard and the consistent Joel Campbell. The pressure of the game suddenly seemed to have a valve release and the Eagles skipped away to lead 11.3 to 9.8 at three quarter time.
In the run home Pioneer sensed victory and got their running game going. They scored 5.2 for the quarter while West could only manage 1.2.
In the Pioneer camp Turner was a huge contributor. Graham Smith despite still seeming to not be 100 per cent fit, dominated, be it in the centre or at full forward. Mallard again showed he has huge potential, and Campbell just keeps putting in with every game. Norm Hagan and Aaron Kopp played their usual productive games and Trevor Dhu top scored with five goals, despite a run in the mid field.
Wests will learn from their first loss for the season. Curtis Haines covered himself in glory with a top game in defence. Rory Hood and Jarrad Berrington kept the pivot pounding throughout, and both David James and Adam Taylor put in. Up forward Steven Squires did all that was asked of him with four goals. This weekend footballers in the Centre rest while the Finke Desert Race beckons them to bonding times south of town.


The cast was rehearsing without scripts in hand for only the second time, and the prompter was getting a reasonable workout.
They had two weeks to get their lines "cemented" and their actions clear, before the five Year 12 drama students from St Philip's present their production of Loot, a black comedy parodying detective fiction by 'sixties London hit playwright Joe Orton. The students will face not only their audience, but their public examiners.
If that prospect is daunting, they weren't showing it in rehearsal.
Despite the effort of concentration the young actors were having a lot of fun.
It's not always the case though. Rehearsing takes a lot of energy.
"When you've just come out of a boring Maths class, it's hard not to feel flat in rehearsal," said Therese O'Brien, who chose to do Drama precisely as an antidote to boring classes.
"For me it's good if I'm in a good mood," said Jessica Yates.
That's one the basic lessons for actors, said their teacher and director, Steve Kidd: "You've got to leave your baggage outside the drama room." So rehearsals always begin with a warm-up: "You enter into the physical and mental world of the play."
The students were also striving to learn their parts as professional actors do, being guided by the intentions and thought processes of their characters. Most of them used to start with rote learning but have already seen its pitfalls: "If you leave it up to reciting, you get really flustered if you forget your lines," said Jessica. Whereas the other way, if you forget the exact wording of your lines you still should be able to paraphrase them.
Why an English farce? It seems rather remote from their world.
There were a few reasons.
They like comedy: "It's hard but it's more effective in the end, more enjoyable for the audience," said Fiona McDonald. They also needed to find a play with five characters, there being only five students in the class.
They hit upon Loot after a long search on the Internet, but it had roles for four males and only one female, while the composition of the class was the exact opposite.
A bit of gender-swapping solved that problem. In a setting of an earlier era, it might have been difficult, but in swinging 'sixties London delinquent girls and a butch detective are entirely credible.
Mr Kidd was concerned to get "the best possible vehicle for the students to get good marks" and Loot is "very well written and very funny".
So, are any of the students looking to a future in theatre? Only Jessica will apply for a drama course, but her interest is broad, not necessarily acting but something in film and theatre production. Freya Tomren sees drama as a useful experience for her intended career in public relations. Fiona similarly sees it as a good confidence builder for journalism.
"It teaches you to cope with criticism, to take it positively," she said. Therese and Lucas Hemsley are leaving their options open.
Meanwhile, they'll be putting their best foot forward at St Philip's next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 13-15, 7.30pm.


Mayor Fran Kilgariff says discussions are under way for a memorandum of understanding between the town council and the newly formed group of native title holders.
She says it has been clear in the council's strategic planning sessions "over the last couple of months" that there is "quite a bit of support" within the council for this initiative.
"I'm hoping that with a combined voice, the traditional owners and the council might be able to actually have some impact on the anti social behaviour that's happening in town, and various other issues, such as what happens in the Todd River," Ms Kilgariff says.
The new group "will just make it very much easier now to get cooperative planning on all sorts of issues."
The Mayor (pictured at left) was commenting on statements made by prominent native title holder Bob Liddle following the recognition by the Federal Court of the body corporate, Lhere Artepe, as the voice of the town's traditional owners (Alice News, May 22).
Mr Liddle says Lhere Artepe will be seeking a major role in fixing the town's social problems, as well as the release of development land previously locked up by the native title claim.
Ms Kilgariff says one of the first acts after her election was to have informal talks with native title holders, and now that Lhere Artepe has been formed, these contacts are able to proceed on an official level.
"The native title holders have been, in my opinion, very much annoyed for some time about behaviour in town that gives all Aboriginal people a bad name, and which is disrespectful to their land," says Ms Kilgariff.
"With some sort of a united voice, the town council and the traditional owners will have much more of an impact than they would separately."
However, Ms Kilgariff says she would be "strongly against" any form of ex-officio representation of traditional owners on the council.
She says if Aboriginal people want to be on the council "they would have to be there in their own right, and legitimately, and able to speak with equal authority to everybody else.
"My personal opinion is that I am against ex-officio representation, quotas or anything like that.
"The thing to do is to get Aboriginal people there under the same terms and conditions as everybody else gets on the council."
Ms Kilgariff says the council has limited powers of enforcement, and with respect to many offences these rest with the police.
The council does have power over littering offences, and camping in the Todd River, "but there are problems associated with enforcement".
"It can be dangerous.
"That sort of role is something we're presently looking at in conjunction with the Tangentyere river wardens.
"There are moves to have joint patrols between our by-laws people and the river wardens.
"There are situations where the police rather than our by-laws officers need to have that enforcement role."
Asked whether there is a problem with authorities being either reluctant or unable to enforce laws, Ms Kilgariff says: "It's not necessarily either of those things.
"The problem is so big Eenforcement is a drop in the ocean."
Ms Kilgariff says the council has no authority over acts on Crown Land even if it is within the municipal boundaries.
"The NT Government controls quite a few of the roads in the town, for instance, and a lot of the Crown Land is under the jurisdiction of the NT Government."
This includes areas such Spencer Valley and Undoolya. The council is the trustee for the Todd River "but now it's a three way authority, the council, the government and Arrernte people".
Says Ms Kilgariff: "The council and the Arrernte people are on the same wavelength and are looking in the same direction."

Multi-award winning Alice-based film-maker David Curl says the Territory is being plundered of its resources by overseas film-makers and photo-journalists working illegally.
Mr Curl says media professionals enter Australia on visitor visas and take away with them film and photographs worth millions, income that should be earnt by Territorian or at least Australian producers. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, in town last week, confirmed that his department is aware of the issue.
Said Mr Ruddock: "We have sought to brief here in the Territory ­ you're raising a particular issue in relation to entertainment and film production ­ relevant authorities, particularly national parks, in relation to who they should let in and who they shouldn't, and what they should satisfy themselves [of] in relation to those people or organisations that claim they are producing films or making other productions in those locations." Mr Ruddock's emphasis however would appear to be acting on individual breaches, rather than a systemic approach: "Where we have become aware that people who have entered on one pretext are working illegally, we've cancelled visas and removed people." Mr Ruddock did not specify whether any of these people (some 14,000 a year) were overseas film-makers or other media personnel. Mr Curl put to Mr Ruddock that staff at the Territory's premier national parks, Uluru and Kakadu, have told him they are not authorised to look at people's visas when they are issuing permits to film. Mr Ruddock: "Well, if somebody gives me that information, we'll find out about that information sharing because quite frankly there is a requirement for those who are in a position to identify who might be working inappropriately to let my department know.
"We are only as good as the community information we get and if people are breaching visa conditions we need to know about it and we need to take appropriate action and we do." The Alice News asked park manager at Uluru, Brooke Watson, whether his staff check visas when they are issuing permits to film.
"We have a permit application which requires the applicant to have the appropriate visa," said Mr Watson. "We don't sight the visa. That's an immigration issue. "We don't have the staff to do it, it's not our job. "We don't have the authority or the mandate to police immigration matters. "If somebody gets caught out, that's not an issue for Parks Australia, it's not our business."
Mr Curl has also raised this matter with the managing director of the Northern Territory Tourist Commission, Maree Tetlow.
Ms Tetlow would not comment other than to say the commission would be looking at the issue. Mr Curl's concern is with the commission's active solicitation of overseas media to work in Australia. According to a commission spokesperson, this is confined to journalists, not feature film-makers, under the Australian Tourist Commission's Visiting Journalists Program.
The ATC's Olivia Wirth dismissed the matter: "When we bring journalists into Australia, they are not working as such.
"I'm pretty sure they come in on holiday visas because they are not working."
They might not sit down at their computer or editing suite while they are here, but they are clearly working. Otherwise, why would the ATC bring them in?
Mr Curl says Territory film-makers would do a much better job in promoting the Territory to the world, because they know the country and the issues, they can get behind the cliches.
"There are only so many superficial stories you can do about the Territory and they've already all been done," he says. Ms Wirth, however, is more concerned about securing the right outlets. She says the Visiting Journalists Program targets the editors and travel writers of key publications and programs, because they know then that their stories, "showcasing Australian tourism product", will get a run. Mr Curl argues that instead of paying overseas film-makers and journalists to come here, these same funds should be allocated to paying for our film-makers and journalists to visit international broadcasters and editors, to attend international festivals and to promote the Territory, overseas.
"Imagine the uproar," he says, "if our government were to pay British and American farmers to fly to the Territory to cut up our own cows, wrap up the meat, and sell it back to us.
"Or imagine if we were paying overseas miners to fly here to dig up gold at the Granites, giving them free accommodation while they were doing it, so that they could make gold jewellery to sell back to us. "Well, that's our current government policy for the local media industries! "At the moment, we're not even Œselling the family silver' ­ we're paying people to come and take it away!" Mr Curl says his small Territory company, set up over 10 years ago, plays an important role in promoting the Territory. His films, in particular the multi-award winning Call of Kakadu and Silhouettes of the Desert, feature articles and photography have reached in excess of 100 million international viewers. "The reason why there aren't 50 companies like mine is that the niche is filled by overseas product. "I realise that the Federal Government thinks it's a priority to stop immigrants reaching our northern shores in decrepit, wooden boats, but it doesn't seem to care about much wealthier immigrants, arriving in style at Sydney airport, who are costing this country far more in lost income."

COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: How cool's our town?

An important grass-roots environmental project was launched in Alice Springs last week. Known as the Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) Cool Community, it aims to recruit at least 200 Alice Springs households to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over the next 12 months.
This will help to combat global warming because households generate around 20 per cent of Australia's total emissions. Your house can be involved if you wish and you will reduce your household running costs - read on. Participating householders will receive knowledge and financial incentives to reduce emissions in three major areas: energy use, transport use and rubbish disposal. This includes free household energy audits to pinpoint how your house can best save greenhouse gases, how much it'll cost and where to get hardware from. You'll be able to attend workshops on various topics, such as composting, energy efficient behaviour around the house, greywater reuse and solar hot water maintenance.
You'll be eligible for a $250 rebate if you install a solar hot water system (on top of PAWA's rebate of up to $900), and a $35 rebate if you purchase $100 or more of greenhouse-gas-saving hardware, such as energy efficient light globes and low-flow shower heads. You'll have access to a Cool Living demonstration house that is currently being developed, discounted car tune-ups and many other incentives.
It is truly grass-roots because it will rely on householders sharing their current knowledge and jointly developing new knowledge to implement hardware and behavioural changes. Home energy auditors will be selected and trained from within the Cool Communities membership and participants will also manage reporting of emission reductions. How can your house become involved? Simply by registering your interest with Desert Knowledge Australia and signing up to the Cool Community program at their website ( or contacting the Desert Knowledge project officer, Mike Crowe on 8951 5219. The DKA Cool Community was officially launched last Friday by the Minister for Central Australia, Peter Toyne, at the Eastside house of Craig and Donna Cross. Their home is an example of a greenhouse-gas-saving house because over several years they have installed roof insulation, skylights, energy efficient appliances, a rainwater tank and changed their habits (like turning off lights in empty rooms) so that their home is more comfortable, has reduced energy use (and hence power bills), car fuel use and rubbish volumes. Nationally the program is a joint initiative of the Australian Greenhouse Office and major state-based environmental groups including the Arid Lands Environment Centre here in Alice Springs.
The Desert Knowledge Australia Cool Community is one of 24 communities Australia-wide that successfully applied to be involved.
Another was Ikuntji community (Haasts Bluff) who will concentrate on composting and/or burying rubbish rather than burning it.
As most of you know, Desert Knowledge Australia is a terrific initiative that aims to develop (and gain economically from) better ways of living and doing business in Australia's desert regions, including improving the economy and lives of Indigenous residents. By becoming Cool Community participants, members of DKA can advance these aims in their own homes. For those who don't know, global warming is the result of a build up of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels in the past 300 years, releasing carbon stored underground for millions of years.
This carbon dioxide gas acts as a blanket trapping heat inside the Earth's atmosphere and not letting it escape into outer space. An interesting fact in Alice Springs is that our landfill seems to produce very little methane gas because it is too dry for organic rubbish to decompose.
Instead much of it is effectively fossilised, creating a carbon sink at the landfill rather than being a carbon emitter.

COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: David's off into sunset.
The first of many semi-retirement celebrations after David's 40 years with Deloitte was held on Friday night out at the Desert Park, as the sun played against the burnt orange cliff-face of the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges.
This was followed by dinner at the Convention Centre, the official opening of which, on Saturday night, was indeed truly spectacular. We are so fortunate to have these two incredible world-class facilities here in Alice Springs.
The week before we'd been out and about celebrating life, and David mentioned to someone that he's semi-retiring and that we're marking the occasion with an OE ­ an overseas experience. "You lucky thing!" he was told. Luck has nothing to do with anything ­ forty plus years of hard work perhaps. "We're looking forward to the trip," David concurred, "but I wouldn't mind being your age again." I have been thinking a lot about David's imminent semi-retirement and celebration of 40 years' service with Deloitte (20 in the middle of Africa and the last 20 here in Central Oz): parties, dinners, toasts, the sharing of anecdotes and stories, wondering what this next stage of life will hold? My brother, Norman, and Lee, were talking to Gary and Jane (or was it Bryan and Debbie?). Anyway, someone said, "Why don't you base next week's column around everyone here?" Norm was really enthusiastic about it all Ehe said he was happy to go around checking name tags. "What, list all of them?" I asked, looking around at the 200 plus people milling in and around Madigan's, spilling out on to the terrace. Heavens, that would be a bit boringEperhaps I could simply make mention of those from interstate?
Vince and Don from Sydney, Mike from Perth, Phil, Anne, David and Julie from Adelaide, Danny, Bob, Cathy, Mark, and Geoff from Darwin, Neil and Annie from Katherine EOn Saturday I reflected on the super speech made by Bronte, and David's brilliant response, and the team effort by everyone, particularly Cheryl, Sylvia and Laura, and Leone and Gary, who acted as photographers on the night. Wonderful tributes to David and then a special presentation made to Precy, who was recognised for her 20 years' service with the company. I shifted my focus to the other attendees ­ some, quite rightly, pointed out that they weren't even born when David first started practising in Rhodesia. Samantha, Clare, Nicky, Tania, Sharon, Eugene, Trish, Rob, Margot, Simon, Jan, Mitch and co, and others, like Alvena, Wally, Barb, Dean, Anne, Russell, Krafty, Chris, Judy, Neil, Ruth, Herman, Mary, Gus, Eleanor and Joe have had long standing associations with the firm. We are so fortunate to be able to count so many friends, amongst clients and the Deloitte team: Kate, Kingy, Lori, Steve, Stephanie, John, Marlene, Andy, Ian, Francoise, Debra, Max, Carolyn, Neville, John, Gary, Jo-Anne, Tony, Dave, Franca, Freddo, Sarah, George, Anne, Will, Jenny, Kevin, Liz and Bill, Paul, Rhonda, Peer, Jude and so many others ­ hey, you know who you are!
Because, as David always says, everything in life, work and play, revolves around people. And haven't there been some great songs written with exactly those sentiments? People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. People make the world go round. I'd like to propose a toast, a special tribute, to the people who've given me such positive feedback, who've rung me, or stopped me in the street, to say thanks for confirming what they've always felt, who have enjoyed a light hearted look at the Alice we love, the Red Centre and our on-going issues. To those who've been bored senseless, critical of my writing style, my parochialisms, my total obsession with Alice and all that life here encompasses, at least some of you have been inspired enough to put pen to paper, and the good news is that there's only one column to go before I take a break.
Our overseas experience starts quite soon: in the meantime we're making the most of our perfect Alice weather, barbecue breakfasts and socialising with friends, before we fly into an English summer which, more often than not, isn't quite as warm as our winter!
So much to miss whenever we're away E


Murray Neck and his family have put on the line all they own to build their dream superstore, the high point of the family's seven decades of trading in The Centre. During that time Murray maintained a reputation of exemplary integrity, but made some tough decisions. Yet hard-nosed deals were coupled with extraordinarily good staff relationships, as ERWIN CHLANDA recounts in part two of this report.
Murray's son Greg, speaking at the superstore opening, referred to the employees as "family".
It is no surprise Murray recalls minutely ­ well over a decade later ­ what consequences the pilots' dispute had on the workers: "We shed four staff.
"No-one was dismissed, they left and were not replaced."
The family members ­ Jenny, Chris, Greg and Anthony ­ were working Œround the clock and cutting back on all sorts of expenses: travel, personal spending, vehicle use and all capital expenditure "We cut our phone expenses, using the fax more, getting our suppliers to phone us rather than us phoning them.
"We came out of that at the end much, much stronger."
Murray says Alice is a very stable town: "We've been able to ride the highs and lows of the national economy."
It is much less dependent on government spending than Darwin: "We've had to feel our way without a great deal of continuous support from the NT Government."
In fact Murray thinks that over the years the town has survived more despite the governments' initiatives, rather than because of them.
Alice in Ten "should be giving us ideas". They are still thin on the ground.
We have the "best water supply between Port Augusta and Katherine" and recycled sewerage should become yet another resource.
"We have a large supply of natural gas but it is used only for electricity."
Both assets "should be used for some sort of manufacturing or horticulture".
For the benefit both of the locals ­ his customers ­ and the tourism industry the "MacDon-nell Ranges need to be developed.
"Parks and Wildlife need to get their act together and allow controlled tourist development in the MacDonnell Ranges.
"To have them sewn up as they have is not using [this asset] as it should be used."
Before the advent of the Town Council, in the Œsixties, Murray served on the Town Management Board which considered one of the earliest consultants' reports about developing tourism.
It specifically proposed developments at The Rock, which the NT government later poured a fortune into.
The MacDonnell Ranges, which he dearly loves, have virtually been ignored. Murray says a development plan similar to that of Ayers Rock is sadly wanting.
Murray announced at the opening of the super store he will be stepping down as the chairman of the Neck group.
But will he?
"I've offered before but they've knocked me back," he says.
Eldest son Chris, the heir apparent, has been "acting as chairman for the last couple of years".
"He is the ideas man, the entrepreneur, the driving force behind the new building."
With 12 grand children ­ the eldest aged 25 ­ in the wings, there may soon be new faces in the business and, in time, on the board.
And the business, in the future, "may not be 100 per cent family owned".
"I think that's a pretty wise choice and the natural evolution of our business.
"We've studied the guidelines of the Alice Plaza where we have a consortium which owns the premises and where we have a business as one of the tenants.
"We would accept the situation where, if it is in our interests, we would bring in other shareholders who are contributors to the future development." So now, is it retirement to Smoky Bay for Murray Neck? "Never in my wildest dreams! It's a wonderful place with great fishing and very friendly people, but Alice has been and always will be my home town."

The road to power: KIERAN FINNANE talks exclusively to Chief Minister Clare Martin. See Part One in the Alice News issue of May 15.
Darwin was only going to be for six months but it became home: Chief Minister Clare Martin's path to the Territory is a familiar story, though in the beginning it wasn't the land and the lifestyle she fell in love with, but "a fella".
Her first stint was back in 1983 as presenter of a morning show for ABC radio.
She had been working as a reporter in Sydney for programs like AM and PM, but wanted to learn how to present a show: "a different skill, you have to learn things like calling time, for heaven's sake, and how you fill gaps, how you start communicating with an audience live".
"They're not going to start you in Sydney, so when I got an offer from Darwin, I thought great, I can learn the skills somewhere that might be more tolerant."
She enjoyed the six months ­ "I liked the smaller community, which surprised me" ­ but when she got an offer of a show in Canberra, she didn't hesitate. "I didn't think I could pursue my career in Darwin."
Her fella, David Alderman, then a solicitor, went with her.
She loved Canberra and he hated it. After a while, he got an offer to become a partner in the law firm he'd worked for in Darwin, and she got an offer to move to a program in Sydney. There was a tussle between man and career; the man won.
"When I went back I didn't have a job, that was a bit hard. I took leave, then, as luck had it, some jobs came up. The first one was doing the Saturday afternoon racing!"
When did Darwin become home?
"I think it was gradual. I went from doing the racing to getting back a morning show and then moved to television.
"David needed to stay in his partnership for 10 years. I was busy doing the 7.30 Report, went back to radio, had a baby [and later another ­ Jake is now 15, and Chloe, 13], doing all those things that totally engross you in a community.
"When the 10 years had passed, I said I didn't want to leave any more.
"That's when the political opportunities came up for me and David went from being a partner in a firm to going to the bar. We both had our midlife change together, and there was the potential of having no money at all coming into the home!"
Politics had always been part of her life. Ms Martin, who grew up in a family of 10 children in Lindfield on Sydney's north shore, was letter-boxing for the now defunct Democratic Labor Party from the age of five. Her parents, Noel and Bernice Martin, were active members of the DLP and went on to establish a Sydney chapter of the American Christian Family Movement.
"My parents were very strong Catholics, with a strong social justice agenda.
"Politics and community action were just considered part of what you did as a member of a large Catholic family.
"The CFM was about more than going to church on a weekend, it was about how you promoted issues in the community and how you acted as a Christian, rather than simply having the tag as a Christian."
How important is all that now?
"Once you're a Catholic, you're really always a Catholic, the values are there really strongly.
"I was a very strong church-goer as I grew up, but through that Œsixties time it was a lot more than just going to church, more community driven and very strongly social justice.
"I go to church more now. One week I'll go to the Buddhists, then I'll go to the Uniting, then the Catholic, the whole range of church services.
"I've got more interest in reflection and spirituality than I had over the last 20 years. It's a sign of getting older and having children getting older, you think about things differently."
Interestingly, there is some family background also in representative politics, but on the other side of the fence.
"My mother's brother, Kevin Cairns, was a member of the McMahon Government, he was Minister for Housing. We never agreed with him. It was always very lively when Uncle Kevin came around. He was poles apart from all his nieces and nephews who were absolutely feral about Vietnam war and what we were doing there and about how Australia was changing.
"We didn't see the Liberal Government as reflecting that at all."
That early political awareness developed into an active interest at university where she studied classical music, playing flute and piano.
"But it wasn't a party political thing, I wanted to work in the political area as a journalist."
The first time she joined a political party was when she pre-selected for the seat of Casuarina, "which happened over a lunch in February 1994".
"I joined the Labor party at the same time and gave the ABC apoplexy, absolute apoplexy.
"I was doing a morning show, I had to leave that and I became the training officer."
She lost the election, went back to being a training officer but after a few months, having resigned from the Labor Party, she got back to working as an active journalist.
"I strongly believe you wouldn't work as a journalist with a commitment to a political party. Joining a political party says you have established a loyalty and you cannot work as a journalist.
"The only complaint I had at that time, in fact, was from the Labor Party about one of the stories I did."
Then in May 1995 Marshall Perron retired from the seat of Fannie Bay.
"I thought I'll give it one more go, my family can stand one more go at this. "I also had a belief that if I was ever going to win a seat it would be Fannie Bay. It was where I lived, where I knew so many people.
"So I pre-selected and re-joined the Labor Party within the same five minutes."
It had been hard to lose the first time round.
"It's a public defeat, it's something you have to come to terms with.
"The person who was most upset was my six year old daughter who cried! I used to have this map on the back of the door, and I would mark off the houses where I had door-knocked. There were 12 houses that I hadn't done.
"Chloe at six said, ŒIf only you'd door-knocked those 12 houses, Mum, you would have won.'
"I probably would have thought very carefully about standing again for another general election. Labor's history has been a lot better in by-elections."
Having a by-election come up just a year after her first campaign and in her patch was a key event on Ms Martin's road to the top in the Territory.
"Maybe if it had come up the year after, I would have been too much into where I wanted to go as a journalist again."
So how clear in her mind was the ambition to lead Labor to victory?
"Standing for Labor in the Territory was like smashing your head against the wall really. The track record for winning anything was pretty poor, but I'm an incurable optimist. I must have had a quiet belief that standing for Labor wasn't going to be opposition forever. It was a giant leap at the time.
"I won Fannie Bay by 69 votes, my focus was on my electorate. I became the most persistent and consistent doorknocker, but I also realised that in an electorate like Fannie Bay you had to be very careful not to polarise it politically.
"I had just got across the line and I was going to be the best local member because I wasn't going to lose that seat.
"But having only one other member of the Labor party in Darwin I also had assume the face of Labor there, go to lots of events, as well as balance the demands of a number of shadow portfolios. Lots of balls in the air."
NEXT: The leadership: something she never plotted and planned for.


Many people know the David Helfgott story from the movie Shine, directed by Scott Hicks. My Aunty Helen had met David and seen him perform at the Bellingen Jazz Festival and was inspired by his story and his playing.
Because I am learning to play the piano she wanted me to have this experience as well, so she bought me a plane ticket to Adelaide and a ticket to the David Helfgott concert at the Adelaide Town Hall.
I was really excited as Dad rushed me from the Eisteddfod concert at Araluen to the airport.
Stephen Goldsmith, a Kaurna / Nurungga man welcomed the audience to Kaurna land, where the Adelaide Town Hall is, and sang "I Can Hear My Colours Singing".
The first half of the concert was the Tutti Ensemble, Holdfast Choir. This choir began as in 1997 as a group of 12 intellectually disabled people and two support workers. There are now over 70 singers and musicians in the group. They sing gospel songs, modern songs, songs from other cultures as well as original songs composed especially for them. My favourite song was "The Owl and Nightingale Tango".
What I loved most about this choir was the bravery and the perseverance of the singers, especially the boy with Downe Syndrome who also helped to conduct the choir. They did an excellent job! There was a great message that everyone is valuable, whether they are black, white, old, young, able or disabled.
Sitting in the front row we were able to see the expressions on David Helfgott's face as he played for the second half of the program. He played compositions by Mendelssohn, Debussy, Gottschalk and Chopin. My favourite piece was "Fantasie Impromptu" by Chopin.
I thought it was fantastic to hear him play after all the trauma and challenges in his life.
After the show I got to meet him backstage and present him with chocolates.
He kissed and hugged me. He kissed and hugged my sister and brother too. He loved my bright pink piano tie that I had worn especially for the concert ... in fact he wanted to keep it for himself!
Maybe one day there will be an opportunity for David Helfgott or the Tutti Ensemble Choir to visit and perform for us here in Alice Springs.
[Darcy is eleven. He competed in the Centralian Eisteddfod and was the winner of the 11 years and under piano solo, 12 years and under piano duet and the Original Composition 12 years and under. He was Highly Commended for the Jazz solo 12 years and under and was awarded the Eisteddfod Council trophy for the Most Outstanding Composition (Any age) for his piano piece called "Hands On".]

3 BDRS, 2 BTHRMS, ALL NEW & JUST $117,000.

A brand new three bedroom home of 100 square metres plus a further 65 square metres under verandahs, two bathrooms, built on your land for just $117,000?
That's the right price, says Wayne Bennett, of the Amoonguna Construction Team, which oversees the building of homes on the Aboriginal community just south east of Alice Springs.
He says the company isn't taking on outside work ­ at least not at the moment.
But its costing, whose accuracy is borne out by several homes at Amoonguna, is a useful guide for home buyers keen on benefiting from cheaper land set to become available in the wake of the native title developments in Alice Springs.
The NT Government and the new Lhere Artepe Association are in negotiations likely to result in the release of several hundred blocks in locations including Larapinta and Mt Johns Valley near the casino.
Andrew Doyle, of the Real Estate Institute, says ex-government homes, which may be up to 40 years old, are currently selling (including land) for around $165,000.
He says new buildings cost between $800 and $1200 per square metre plus $400 to $500 per square metre of verandah area.
He says a vacant block has recently been sold for $95,000 at the Kempeana subdivision (opposite the Diarama), while 450 to 550 square metre blocks behind the Diarama have sold for between $75,000 and $85,000.
Mr Doyle says the negotiations with Lhere Artepe are "vitally important" for the town if they result in cheaper land.
He says homes are now out of reach for most first and second home buyers.
AFFORDABLE They could more comfortably afford land worth around $40,000 to $50,000 which ­ combined with construction costs similar to those described by Mr Bennett, would put the completion price for a new home starting at $160,000.
Mr Bennett says the Amoonguna homes are entirely built by local contractors and trades people.
One exception is a small amount of concrete work carried out by CDEP labour ­ but this cost is factored into the price at the commercial rate.
Also included in the $117,000 is a $5000 fee for a construction supervisor and quality controller, and $5000 for a septic tank ­ which people in town of course wouldn't need. Mr Bennett says the homes have concrete block walls, painted inside and out.
The roof has a steel frame and Colourbond cladding, a fully insulated roof cavity and fully ducted evaporated air conditioning.
Bedrooms and living areas also have ceiling fans and smoke detectors.
The main bathroom has a bath, shower, hand basin and WC.
The en-suite bathroom has a shower, hand basin and WC.
Wet areas and kitchen have ceramic floor tiles and the rest of the house has lino floors.
The kitchen has a walk-in pantry, cupboards, sink, four burner electric stove and oven, two roof ventilators. On the roof is a 300 litre solar and electric hot water system.
The price also includes built-in wardrobes in the three bedrooms.


The embattled Yipirinya School Council, stung by staff walking off the job and having it declared an unsafe workplace, last Friday finally made a statement to the media, via a firm of lawyers.
The council said it did "not believe that the school is an unsafe work site" and that it would be seeking assistance from the Minister for Central Australia and the Minister for Education to resolve the impasse.
The council said it is "very concerned that the students have been sent home", and that "the primary focus should be on the welfare of the school's children".
However, on Monday, as the Alice News went to press, communication had broken down between the council and the Australian Independent Education Union, representing staff.
Darwin-based AIEU organiser Simon Hall would not discuss details but said the union was looking forward to a hearing of some matters in the Industrial Relations Commission on Tuesday.
The council's statement referred to a conciliation conference in the IRC on May 9. It said the union had agreed at the conference to provide the council with details of issues that they believed to be unresolved. "The council has still not received that information from the union," said the statement.
"The council believes staff are misinformed about what has occurred."


When the Federal government allocates many millions of dollars to a program for Aboriginal health, why does it take more than two years, and possibly three, to get to the "coalface"? We're talking about the Primary Health Care Access Program (PHCAP) ­ the "Aboriginal healthcare revolution" of last week's news ­ which had its first budget allocation in 2000, followed by a boost to those resources in the 2001 budget.
This wasn't money to get the ball rolling; this was money for the implementation of a thoroughly planned reform of how Aboriginal health care services are funded and delivered (see Alice News, August 8, 2001). It was to see a pooling of Territory and Commonwealth resources and an equitable channelling of them, via a framework agreed by a four-way partnership, to community-controlled primary health care services or community health boards.
"It's been a long and cumbersome process but one we've been part of and we are confident of a positive roll-out starting within two months," says Stephanie Bell, chairperson of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory, one of the partners. The others are the Commonwealth and Territory Departments of Health, and ATSIC.
Federal Minister for Health and Aged care, Kaye Patterson told the Alice News recently that the delays had been necessary in order to "get the structure right and make sure that it's ongoing".
The Minister's man on the ground, regional manager David Scholz, agrees that the roll-out has taken longer than expected but says there's always a "trade-off between speed and sustainability". "We want strong community endorsement of this program and that takes a great deal of time," he says.
How does the partnership know that Aboriginal communities want responsibility for their own health services?
Ms Bell, also director of Congress in Alice Springs, says communities throughout Australia were consulted on the matter during the development of the National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS) in 1989. The majority of communities wanted control. They saw it as away of maintaining cultural integrity and of having greater power over having their needs met.
"We have been promoting this message to government for a long time," says Ms Bell. Also, the historical experience of communities with their own service is that they have greater success in attracting resources. Kintore, Urapuntja and Ampilatwatja, for example, each have their own primary health care service, with their own resident doctor.
The service at Katherine West, which is effectively the first fully-fledged PHCAP service, has twice as many nurses as it previously had and three full-time resident doctors, in contrast to the previous part-time visiting doctor arrangement. People in the region are showing Improvements in health as a result. "If a community holds its own funds and is in charge of at least the contract to provide services, as is envisaged by PHCAP, there will be a much greater level of accountability from the state to the community," says Ms Bell.
What about accountability from the community to the state? How can we be sure that that a functional health service is what people will get? Ms Bell says it is not possible to control every "unexpected hurdle that may arise" but that Aboriginal community-controlled health services have a good record of maintaining services despite ups and downs in community politics. The Alice News put the same question to NT Health Minister Jane Aagaard. Given the recent statements in the parliament by front bencher John Ah Kit, describing the dysfunctionality of Aboriginal communities, why is she convinced that community control is a good thing? "We want this system to work; it is ultimately the Territory's responsibility that it work," says Ms Aagaard. "It is not a simple handover and nothing like a Œgrants in aid' system where we say, ŒHere's the money, now you do it'. "This is a partnership system that has been carefully prepared over a long period of time. "Funds and services won't be handed over until the community health boards are ready and able to undertake the tasks. "Careful financial and service monitoring processes will be in place to pick up problems along the way."
Meanwhile, the partnership has not been idle since the Commonwealth's allocation of funds. Their first job was to learn to work together. On the government side this involved the negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Territory and the Commonwealth, in the process of which they "mapped" all the resources being applied to Aboriginal health.
"It was time-consuming but it provides future clarity that will allow PHCAP to achieve maximum benefit," says Mr Scholz. Ms Bell: "We now know the ratios of population to health care professionals for every community, the per capita expenditure and the health infrastructure. "That has never been done before. "And there's never been joint funding before, nor a per capita distribution. "It's no longer the case that if you're clever enough to write a submission, you get the money. "That's what's Œrevolutionary' about this." And it's much fairer, says Mr Scholz. The mapping underpinned the Central Australian Regional Health Planning Study, which made the region eligible for PHCAP dollars. For planning purposes, Central Australia has been divided into 11 zones (there are 10 more in the Top End). The initial PHCAP roll-out will occur in five of the Central Australian zones, selected on the basis of both need and capacity to benefit, the latter seen as reflected in community leadership and self-governance.
The five zones to get the first roll-out are: Anmatjere, around Ti-Tree; East Arrernte, the Harts Range, Bonya, Lake Nash area; Northern Barkly, taking in Corella Creek, Alexandria Downs, Nicholson River and Elliott; Warlpiri centred on Yuendumu; and Luritja-Pintupi, covering Papunya, Mt Liebig and Kintore. Steering committees, with eight to 16 members on each, have been formed in each zone, and they are now preparing to select consultants with whom they will work to develop their own strategic health plan.
This is the point from which Ms Bell counts the roll-out as happening.
"It is critical that Aboriginal people themselves, through their health boards, are making the decisions about what services they need. "The provision of qualified staff is only one part of the process."
Nonetheless it's an important part and Ms Aagaard says PHCAP will create a lot more health jobs in the Territory.
Will the department be shedding jobs?
It seems likely that some people who presently work for the department will in future work for the community-controlled services.
This may improve recruitment and retention, says Ms Aagaard.
"Experience tells us that people prefer to work for Aboriginal organisations than for the government. Katherine West, for example, has been successful in recruiting nurses whereas it's always hard for us to recruit in remote areas." The committees will also work out how communities can share the administration and resources of their health services on a zone basis. Mr Scholz: "Many services are managed centrally at present. With PHCAP the management will move closer to where people live, with a management structure developed within each zone.
"It is unrealistic to expect that there will be a manager resident in each community as this would be Œresource intensive' and detract from the ability to deliver primary health care services." So, while all this has been happening have health services been in a state of suspense? Mr Scholz says not. The construction of housing for new staff has already started in some areas, with the Commonwealth spending $5.5m on staff housing and infrastructure in the PHCP zones "to keep ahead of the main implementation".
Wherever possible this work has been coordinated with the activities of the Indigenous Housing Authority of the Northern Territory (IHANT) and NAHS to achieve economies of scale. Another $5m has been spent across Central Australia on upgrading health clinics, including the development of patient information recall systems. A future step will allow information sharing between clinics, responding to Aboriginal patients' high mobility. Other programs have been used to enhance primary health care in 15 communities in Central Australia, concentrating on those with high needs in areas outside of the initial five roll-out zones.
Examples include an extra nurse at Areyonga, extra nurses and health workers at Finke, an administrator and resident doctor at Santa Teresa, and a nurse, IT and a new clinic at Amoonguna.
In all, there's been an expenditure of $2.2m, "a 16.2 per cent increase since 1998," says Mr Scholz.


Coaches from West and Rovers gladly took home premiership points from their wins on Sunday, but would not have stored many great moments of football from the outings to Traeger Park.
In the late game on Sunday the Blues downed South 11.11 (77) to 6.17 (53). Earlier West continued their undefeated record by accounting for Federal 16.18 (114) to 6.2 (38). The contest between third and fourth placed Rovers and South was always expected to be a close game. The Blues ran on without Brett Wright, while Adrian McAdam was again missing from the Roo line-up. Shaun Cusack also appeared in casuals to coach from the sideline, which could well have been the difference between the two sides at the end of the day. In term one, Herman Sampson got the Roo machine fired up with a goal, which was countered by majors from both Jamie Tidy and Nathan McGregor from Rovers.
Then late in the quarter Souths evened the tally with a goal from Lloyd Stockman. At the first break Rovers held a two-point lead, which they maintained through until half time. In the second quarter Souths had nine scoring shots to register a score of 4.10, while Rovers made the most of their chances adding 3.1 for a total of 5.6.
It was Sampson's ability to break through the South half forward line to give them the two goals of the quarter, while goal sneak McGregor proved effective with two, indispersed by one from Max Fejo, which kept the Blues in front. The third term resulted as an even one on paper with both sides adding 2.3. But on the field it seemed South were gaining an upper edge. Darren Talbot and Shane Hayes were getting plenty of touches and Sampson continued his plunder up forward.
In reply Rovers had Edric Coulthard again commanding in the backline, with Malcolm Kenny and Karl Hampton both providing drive. An unfortunate loss of Clinton Pepperill with what seemed to be a recurrence of an ankle injury, could have counted against South, but certainly at three quarter time they seemed to be in the box seat to run home winners. Alas it was not to be. The Blues stole the march from the first bounce of the final term and scored four goals to South's four behinds, so taking the game by 24 points.
Rovers had Kenny, then Robert Coombes and Kasmin Spencer kick goals before the sealer from Mark Nash. In response South found themselves locked in the dead pocket at the southern end time and again, and could do little to arrest their situation. For Rover coach John Glasson it was not a game to be remembered as a top Rover performance even if they did collect the premiership points. The laurels of the day went the way of Mark Nash who was chaired off the ground by his team mates.
The action was a testiment to his contribution to sport in Alice over the recent years. He returns south soon, but in the Centralian annals he will be remembered, as a natural leader and true sportsman!
For South's Shaun Cusack it was a disappointing outcome. He has a side which on its day is capable of outplaying all comers in Alice Springs. Sunday was not one of those days ! Coaches Noel Teasdale and Michael Graham probably had similar feelings after the West win over Federal. The game didn't reach great heights, with West taking the points thanks to a productive third term. The Bloods ran on minus their three Thunder representatives who were being conveyed from the airport, having successfully defeated the ACT in Sydney on Saturday night. By mid way through the first term however, Steven Squires, Shaun Cantwell and Adam Taylor were on terra firma at Traeger Park in the Blood and Tar colors.
This aside West were capable of establishing command early in the game with Jarrod Berrington taking control of the centre, Josh Flattum dominating in defence and Michael Gurney establishing an avenue of attack through half forward. As such they led 4.5 to 2.1 at the first break. In the second quarter Federal bounced back. They found Desmond Jack to be a real target at full forward and he registered a bag of four goals by half time. Glen Moreen also joined in the Feds' harvest with a goal, giving them three for term, while Westies seemed to squander chances, booting 1.5 for the session. West as nine point leaders were far from home and hosed at the big break, but things changed quickly in the premiership quarter. Despite losing Darrel Lowe with a knee injury, and Flattum being yellow carded, Westies kicked themselves into a winning position. Steven Squires kicked three goals for the term; Henry Labastida celebrated with two; and Karl Gunderson registered a single. In reply Feds wallowed, scoring a solitary point. With the game in their keeping the Bloods in the last term then ran in 4.6 to one goal. Squires kicked two, taking his bag for the day to six, and Westies finished the game well on top of the battling Federals. This week the two top teams of the competition face each other, with West playing Pioneer.
In the curtain raiser Federal and South will chase premiership points.


The Finke Desert Race for 2002 may have crept on us this year, but in the background the voluntary committee, assisted by the NT Major Events Company, has been doing the hard yards required to organise such an event. The Finke is no longer in the hands of a few dare devils taking advantage of a long weekend to challenge the elements and race 230 kilometres south, and back, just for the fun of it! The race is now one of five points-scoring events which combine to form the Australian Off Road Racing Championships. For years the growth and repute of the desert race was stifled somewhat by the fact that the national body held championship legs elsewhere and in competition to the Finke weekend.
Now that our race has been recognised as part of the championship series, but it is not quite "all easy sailing". Racers are now required to adhere to the demands of CAMS and compromise has become a key word in the race's organisation. In years gone by a car or bike crippled on the downward journey ended the penny section with a DNF attached. For them the race was over! This year true racers who can re-ignite their machine for the homeward leg will be able to re-enter, albeit behind the twentieth-placed vehicle, for the run home.
In terms of championship racing this sounds a valid and fair innovation, but when the actual conditions at Finke are analysed there are issues to take into consideration.
The Desert Race has a tried and tested success formula of community involvement. It has been the nomination of the little battler on his one and only "ride to work" bike, or $5000 four wheeler, which has helped give Finke its character. In recent years with the entry of the bike manufacturers becoming more serious, and six figure buggies being constructed, the top end of the market has hit the big time. And now it is the task of the organisers to hold it all together through compromise to ensure there is a place for everyone in the race. It is here that course conditions become a vital consideration. At the
southern end of the course the "whoops" are such that a vehicle in a gully at times cannot be seen from the other side. Race guru Jol Fleming aptly terms the conditions as "vertical S Bends" where racers hurl themselves forward into the true unknown.
In these conditions the re-entry of former DNF vehicles could be problematic. The last thing need by a little battler ­ who has made it to Finke, camped overnight in a swag, and had a meagre carbohydrate loading at dawn ­ is a big time competitor barging through the field. To be rammed from the rear could be catastrophic! Another unique feature of the Finke Desert Race is that there is no limit to the cubic capacity of entries. This can have a positive influence on the race, but could also have the potential to blow the grass roots Finke racer out of the game. With innovation there still needs to be a place for "Joe average". Finke 2002 has seen a swing towards big four-cylinder bikes, customised buggies, and professional four wheel drivers. Power will exude at the start line. It may well also swing the favouritism for outright victory the way of the cars. Only time will tell! Otherwise in the lead up to Finke 2002 none of the traditional character appears to be missing. Nominations have come thick and fast. Garages are abuzz with vehicle preparations. The Start / Finish Line has been spruced up. Even down the track, Cotter camp has been manicured with lawn mower and whipper snipper attention over the last few weekends. The Finke Desert Race, as an Australian Championship event, is now a premium and professional part of our culture. This acquired professionalism will now hopefully also spill over to the small lunatic element of the crowd whose antics have in past times endangered racers and fellow supporters. A trouble-free Finke both on and off the track is the organisers' dream!


Outfits by Alice Springs textile artists and designers Philomena Hali and Milena Young will be modelled during Proper Flash, Bush Couture at Olive Pink Botanic Garden on Sunday, starting at 2.30pm.
"The show will feature 14 fashions modelled by 14 Alice Springs men and women,'' Milena said. "Philomena and I have entered numerous fashion awards over the years. "For those events we have to design our works to fit a particular size person, so we thought it would be fun to design items for Œreal' people for a change, and for all ages too. "The fashions in Sunday's show are for people aged seven to 70 plus. "Just because you're not a particular size and age does not mean you can't wear original designs. "Philomena and I have been talking about having a show like this for some time. MODEL "So we decided to stop talking and do it. We asked some people we know if they would model for us and they said yes." Milena came to Australia from London in 1993 and to Alice Springs in 1997 and since then has taken and taught numerous workshops relating to textile design. She has also taught in Aboriginal communities, participated in various exhibitions, such as the Alice Craft Acquisition and the NT Fashion Awards, and in 2000 spent three weeks as craftsperson-in-residence at Musgrave Gallery in Ayers Rock. Philomena is well-known throughout Central Australia, and indeed Australia, for her work in textiles. In addition to teaching classes and conducting workshops for Territory Craft, she has also taught art courses in various NT schools. In 1999 Philomena was one of seven Australian textile artists invited to attend the Third International Shibori Symposium in Santiago, Chile. Both Milena and Philomena design their works based on the colours and other things they observe in the Central Australian landscape. "I do take photographs but I don't look at them while I am working," Milena said. "Instead I like to see what results intuitively from what I have observed."
Both Milena and Phil design a wide range of items, from scarves to wall hangings, to dresses to fashion accessories, incorporating a variety of different dyeing and printing techniques.
Sunday's show will also feature a wide range of work, the majority being recent designs.
There will also be entertainment by dancer Elisabeth Strayer and singer Brooke Caldow.
Refreshments will be available at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden Cafe.


Native title holders want to form a powerful alliance with the Alice Springs Town Council to curb anti-social behaviour, and want to open up hundreds of building blocks in areas such as the Mt Johns Valley, according to Bob Liddle.
He says he is speaking for his family, as its senior member.
Deborah Maidment, a niece, and Barbara Satour, a full sister of Mr Liddle, are on the 30 member Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation.
Mrs Satour says both she and Mrs Maidment are happy for Mr Liddle to speak on their behalf.
Lhere Artepe was determined by Justice Olney last week to be the body corporate for local Arrernte native title holders during a brief but emotional Federal Court hearing in Alice Springs.
Mr Liddle, who initiated the native title claim nine years ago, says native title holders have a strong moral right to play a role in public life, and may well provide the leadership ­ now sorely missing ­ in fixing the town's social ills.
He says the message is going out to troublemakers that "you've got to behave yourself in this place from now on.
"We won't allow you to destroy the fabric of this town.
"These major social problems need to be cleaned up," says Mr Liddle. The traditional owners of the town area can now "take a more active part in the administration of law and social services, including the issue of liquor licences.
"We can give advice to authorities, including the police," says Mr Liddle.
"We have never been involved in these processes.
"There has never been open respect for us.
"We've been stampeded and trampled on."
Mr Liddle says Lhere Artepe will be a "forum for traditional owners who have never been consulted on development issues". He says native title holders will play a role in such issues as Tangentyere's expansion of town leases, encouraging urban drift from bush communities, which is one of the root causes of the alcohol related mayhem in town.
He says Lhere Artepe has already started talks with the NT Government about opening up land for residential and commercial development on some of the118 parcels over which, in May 2000, Justice Olney found native title to be coexisting.
Mr Liddle says the talks are about 60 blocks in Larapinta for first home-buyers.
He says "an offer is on the table" from the Government and a decision may be "four or five months away ­ or even less".
It is expected that Mt Johns Valley will be discussed in the near future, presently Crown Land between the golf course and the MacDonnell Range, potentially the site for several hundred housing blocks, an initiative which seems set to relieve the serious shortage of residential land.
Native title holders are negotiating with the NT Government to be given ownership of some of the land.
Mr Liddle says this would "open up new scope for economic and social development" of Aboriginal people, providing independence from welfare through "stable, economic projects".
He says the Labor government is "willing to cooperate".
"The CLP wouldn't do anything. All they wanted to do is fight the claims.
"But this is not just about making money out of land deals.
"This is much bigger. It's about tourism, welcoming people."
Mr Liddle says Lhere Artepe is an independent body. It may seek advice and assistance from the Central Land Council (CLC), which set up the body corporate, and was previously the organisation charged with local native title issues.
However, Mr Liddle says Lhere Artepe may well hire its own legal and administrative staff.
Lhere Artepe is required to inform the CLC about any indigenous land use agreements, but the CLC has no power of veto.
Mr Liddle says "we have now gained independence rather than [having to] depend on continued advice from the CLC".
Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne said earlier this year that the Government would be talking to Lhere Artepe direct on the crucial issues of freeing up land in the town.
Mr Liddle says the structure of Lhere Artepe is much simpler than that of the CLC and "getting consent is going to be far less complicated than under the Landrights Act".
Lhere Artepe has 30 members, with three groups of 10 representing three regions within the wider town area ­ Undoolya, Bond Springs and the town itself.
The Liddle, Kunoth, Stevens, Stuart, Golder and Stirling families (Brian Stirling is the chairman of Lhere Artepe) hold rights in the town.
Mr Liddle, son of the legendary Milton Liddle, one of Australia's first Aboriginal rights campaigners, was a well-known boxer in his youth.
He worked for a string of Aboriginal organisations in The Centre before setting up a mining consultancy business.
He has connections in the United States and once had lunch at the White House and met then US President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy.
Mr Liddle was an alderman for two terms, 1984 and 1989.
He says the native title triumph is overshadowed by sadness over the death of many Arrernte people who had fought for recognition in Alice Springs.
They did not see last week's landmark decision, which created the first native title body corporate in Australia.
Mr Liddle says many sacred places in the town had been damaged or destroyed. Burial sites had been bulldozed ­ including two of his own ancestors' ­ one of them a great-great-grandmother of his.
She had been laid to rest at the foot of the small hill opposite the hospital.

Concerns raised by Araluen MLA Jodeen Carney about gaps in health services in Alice Springs have been firmly rebutted by Health Minister Jane Aagaard.
Ms Carney said women of Central Australia had been "denied breast screening services for 14 out of the past 17 weeks", while Alice Springs Hospital renal patients had been left without a specialist.
Ms Carney sheeted these gaps home to "the failure of Health Minister Jane Aagaard to do her job", adding to last week's sustained attack on Ms Aagaard by Shadow Minister for Health, Stephen Dunham.
Ms Carney told the Alice News she had written about her concerns to the Minister but had not had a reply.
Ms Aagaard, in a written response to the News, has confirmed that the hospital's renal specialist is on long service leave.
She says a number of strategies have been put in place while he is away, including:-
€ employment of a locum registrar to oversee patients in the dialysis unit;
€ appointment of a registrar on a full-time basis, commencing in early July;
€ having a specialist from Darwin working in the renal unit;
€ having the head of the Department of Medicine at the hospital, who has extensive experience in renal medicine, assist the registrars.
The Minister says specialists in renal medicine are difficult to recruit, particularly to remote locations. However, the department has received an expression of interest from a renal specialist, which will be pursued.
The staff member who provides the Breast Screen service in Central Australia is currently on sick leave.
This person acts as a half-time coordinator and half-time radiographer.
To cover her absence, an experienced breast screening mammogra-pher was engaged as a locum to undertake screenings in March. In a three-week period 212 women were screened.
Meanwhile, assessment services were provided by the Alice Springs Hospital's radiographer service.
The next round of screening is planned for around July using the locum service. The locum will be engaged to undertake three weeks' full-time screening in Alice Springs, followed by one week's screening in Tennant Creek.
"This level of service is consistent with the service normally provided by the Department," says the Minister. "There have been no reductions."
Mr Dunham suggested, among other things, that there had been a "refusal to recruit and employ senior level staff for remote areas due to Œbudgetary constraints' placing an unrealistic burden on staff already in place".
Ms Aagard rejects this: "There are no restrictions placed on recruitment of staff involved in service delivery, nor is the Department of Health and Community Services facing difficulties in regard to staffing and management issues. Health professionals working in remote areas receive special conditions of service to support them."


Yipirinya School is receiving about $2m this financial year in public funding despite serious internal strife, and average attendance dropping to 78 students.
At that attendance rate the cost per student is more than three times greater when compared to government run primary schools.
Their total cost per student is $8201 a year, according to an NT Government spokesperson, which in turn is substantially higher than costs in other states.
The Yipirinya School has not responded to repeated requests for comment from the Alice News (see also News, May 15).
Meanwhile a spokesman for Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson, who contributes the lion's share of the school's budget, says Dr Nelson "is aware of the issues relating to the school and is concerned about the school".
"Dr Nelson is committed to facilitating the school's ongoing operations for the continued benefit of the indigenous children of the area.
"The department has recently been working with the school council to address the administrative and educational issues that now confront the school, and part of this approach has been the commissioning the preliminary review by the Anangu Accounting Agency (AAA).
The report of that review is currently under analysis by the department.
"At this stage there is no indication that any Commonwealth funds have been misappropriated or are unaccounted for."
This appears to be in conflict with a statement in AAA's draft report, leaked to the Alice News, which says $231,713 is "unacquitted".
Dr Nelson's spokesman says he does not comment on leaked reports.
The school is receiving $164,000 from the NT Government.
The Federal Department of Education, Science and Training paid to the school in General Recurrent Grants funding of $480,150 in 2001, based on per capita enrolments of 150 primary students.
The school also received grants under the Commonwealth Capital Grants program of $257,481 as a contribution towards a multi purpose hall.
Yipirinya further received funding through the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program (IESIP) in 2001, totalling $ 961,000.
IESIP funds are provided through a combination of:- recurrent funding based on a per capita funding model; project funding under the National Indigenous English Literacy Strategy; and special assistance through the English as a Second Language ­ Indigenous Language Speaking Students part of IESIP.

COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: Water waste no dry topic.
Can Alice Springs become a showcase for arid zone urban water management, rather than an example of what not to do, as we are now? Last week's column outlined our poor performance to date, as well as strategies that are trying to turn it around, the subject of a recent workshop. With respect to the Town Basin (a sandy aquifer under the Todd River that is recharged by river flows), the worskhop agreed that, pending further studies and consultation with the community, it should be treated and incorporated into the town's drinking water supply, rather than just being used for irrigating sports facilities.
Benefits include a reduction in non-renewable water use (by about 10 per cent), availability as an "emergency supply" if Roe Creek water cannot be delivered, better management of Town Basin water levels to prevent salinity problems and the development of a comprehensive pollution management plan for the town to stop contamination of the Town Basin by fuel leaks and other pollutants.
Government agencies predicted that it could take as little as two years to have a working system in place. Meanwhile, investigations will also examine the upgrading of the Town Basin irrigation system if drinking it is not feasible.Effluent reuse options are to be pursued on three fronts: agricultural reuse, reuse in town and indirect potable reuse via injection into underground aquifers.
In the short-term, agricultural irrigation reuse is already being pursued by PAWA.
They are seeking expressions of interest for operations on the airport land, one of the main drivers being to remove effluent overflows from Ilparpa swamp and from the recently constructed drain down St Mary's Creek.
It was agreed that it is too risky to rely on agricultural operations alone to reuse all effluent, due to the real risk that a commercial operation could fold at short notice. Reuse in town is possible on several fronts, particularly as a substitute for Town Basin irrigation water that is currently used by Traeger Park, the golf club, a few schools and other ovals. This would use approximately one third of current effluent volumes.
Technologies are well proven for this type of reuse, although PAWA is concerned that liability risks may make effluent reuse more difficult over time.
As discussed in this column three weeks ago, new subdivisions at Larapinta and Stephens Road are also potential sites for dual reticulation schemes, where one pipe delivers potable water for indoor use and another pipe delivers treated effluent for toilet flushing and garden irrigation.
Retrofitting of a treated effluent pipe into existing suburbs seems too costly to justify its installation at present. The most interesting reuse option is to treat effluent to a very high quality and inject it underground into an aquifer south of the Gap. After several years, it would be extracted, treated again and mixed into Alice Springs' potable (drinking) water supply.
The technical feasibility of this needs to be further investigated (although work elsewhere indicates it is possible) and public acceptance needs to be gauged.
The big plus for Alice Springs is that such a scheme can take all of the town's effluent indefinitely and would reduce our dependence on Roe Creek borefield water by a whopping one third.
PAWA has concluded that this indirect potable reuse would be their least-cost option to manage effluent due to the high price they can command for it as potable water compared to a low price as an irrigation water supply.
It would also give us a global focus from other towns seeking similar schemes as water becomes more valuable over time (get ready for future Water Wars).
People may think it unsavory to drink treated effluent, but it happens every day on the Murray River where an upstream town extracts water, treats it, drinks it, partially treats the effluent, discharges it back into the river where it flows downstream before being extracted by the next town who treats it, drinks it, and so on.
This happens eight or nine times in its journey to the sea.
The plan for Ilparpa Swamp is to continue its rehabilitation back towards an ephemeral claypan.
This may not be fully achievable due to the highly altered environment and presence of couch grass, but an attempt will be made.
Critical to this is adequate resourcing by PAWA (with no commercial return on their investment) who have an obvious community obligation to fix the problem they have caused by 30 years of effluent overflows.
ALEC suggest that PAWA should become a corporate sponsor of Ilparpa Valley (one of the biodiversity hotspots of Central Australia) and that they contribute to an Ilparpa Valley Protection Fund via a base payment and a 10 cents per kilolitre levy for all future overflows to the swamp. Overall, if the Urban Water Management Strategy can progress these issues to reality over the next few years, everyone in town will notice a real difference and we'll all be winners.
Have your say when the opportunity arises, otherwise we'll remain just another high water using desert town for years to come.

COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: Life's short but never predictable.

The wonderful thing about Alice Springs is that even though David and I hadn't been for some time to "Thank God It's Friday" drinks at one of our favourite watering holes (changing hands soon, congrats to Lynne and Ernie), we didn't feel "out of the loop". We walked in and saw so many friendly faces.
We joined Homer, Dave and Mike. Like us, they're avid readers and enjoy perusing many periodicals, magazines and both local papers. We found ourselves talking about the lead story on the front page of the Advocate, May 16, which revealed that Alice Springs has been sited in the wrong place! A bit late to worry about that, we agreed. We've known for years that Alice is sitting on a flood plain.
This prompted discussion about rising insurance premiums; the feasibility studies of the late 1980's regarding recreation lakes versus flood mitigation and dams; the model which was constructed by Homer, and put on display for public comment, and showed proposals for construction in the Junction Waterhole area; the then Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Robert Tickner, who blocked the whole project and the ensuing ten year moratorium; and the 20 million dollars which was to be set aside by government for the project which was to be revisited, re-investigated and approved in principle before the millennium by which time most outstanding issues would have been resolved.
What happened?
In 1994 a master plan was released which dealt with matters such as flood mitigation and our (normally dry) waterways, the Charles and Todd Rivers. A committee headed by John Baskerville (as reported in the Alice News, Feb 1998) discussed proposals put forward to ensure our town and its people wouldn't go under if there was ever a really big rain in our region.
Suggestions included a series of small dams in the catchment area, levee banks in flood prone areas, examination of the zoning systems and stricter enforcement of provisions of the Lands and Planning Act.
The Council at the time was keen to see extra retardation basins around the Alice but it was recognised that whilst Native Title claims and Sacred Site protection issues remained unresolved, there was no likelihood of compromise.
And we're still in a stalemate situation: it takes a long time to get things done, doesn't it?
Which is one of the (many) comforting things about living here: it's all quite predictable, we simply roll along, days into weeks, months into years. Ideas are proposed, blocked, shelved, revisited and later, forgotten E
Some time after the last tribute has been received and the grieving period is over, there'll be much fanfare as Dame Ruth Cracknell makes her debut on the big stage in the sky. She'll be in great company with others we know, love and remember, like Spike Milligan, who died earlier this year.
One of the many things that these two talented actors/comedians had in common, apart from obvious qualities including a touch of genius, the ability to entertain and bring joy to so many, the sharing of personal lives, the humorous and the serious, is that they each played to audiences at the Araluen Theatre.
David and I were fortunate enough to attend both shows: Ruth in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days (which was promoted as one of his more cheerful plays!) in August 1991, and sometime later in the 1990s, Spike, doing his one man show, a mix of life, the comical and the not so.
As Shakespeare wrote, All the world's a stage E
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.
We must never take ourselves so seriously that we lose the essential threads of laughter and spontaneity in our lives: nor should we become so full of self-importance and predictability that assumptions alleging "nothing ever happens" are always correct.
Because it could all become a bit mundane!

Murray Neck, the head of the oldest company in Alice Springs, says the $5m superstore opened this month is the family firm's biggest and most courageous move, requiring it to put on the line just about everything it possesses.
"It's a pretty bold step for us.
"We really had no alternative if we were to be counted in the future."
Breathing down the Necks' necks was the national giant Harvey Norman, preparing to move into town.
Murray is confident that threat has now been averted by opening the new store, adding furniture to the traditional range of white goods and electronics in one massive building.
"We're here first and we'll be firmly established before Harvey Norman consider it again and I don't think they will," says Murray.
"They're not going too well in a lot of regional centres where established local traders have successfully challenged their competition. "The fact that we made this expansion would be sufficient notice to them that there wasn't room for two such businesses."
The previous major expansion move of the Neck dynasty was the Westpoint Store near Billygoat Hill just 12 years ago, opened by then CLP front bencher and funny man Barry Coulter.
"It's greed that makes businesses prosper.
"The Necks obviously have greed in their make-up," Barry said.
Apparently fresh out of the movies, Barry was paraphrasing fictional Wall Street trader Gordon Gecko claiming that "greed is good, greed works".
The quip from the usually quick-witted pollie went down like a lead balloon, remembers Murray, with him, his family and the opening crowd.
"I put it down to survival," says the energetic 73-year-old.
"That's what kept us moving since my father started our business in the early Œthirties.
"We've grown a bit at a time.
"We've had 70 years to do it.
"The market is out there to be had.
"The market is the total spending in Alice Springs.
"The market isn't just what your direct opposition are selling.
"He who presents himself best and makes his product desired, whether it's a new TV or vehicle, a house extension or a holiday abroad, will get his share of the market."
Murray's best guess is the Necks have a major share of the total local trade in their lines.
"We naturally hope to get more with this expansion because the businesses will help each other.
"You may come in and buy a lounge chair and finance your new fridge and a bed at the same time, get it all on the same contract."
Family business in the Necks' context refers to a very extended family.
Ray Bail and Dean Hurrell from Alice Precasters, who helped put the 5500 square metre building together like a giant Lego set, used to play Aussie Rules for Feds, Murray's favourite side.
And so did the contractor, Paul Gracie who put the roof on in just two weeks.
Tough times, such as some local business people consider the town is braving at the moment, are clearly not keeping Murray awake at night.
OWN DESTINY He very much gives the impression that with hard work, great care giving the best service possible and the kind of public support the firm has been enjoying for decades, the Necks can make their own destiny.
In fact, they're not bad at turning adversity into advantage.
Shortly before the pilots' dispute hit the town like a sledge hammer in the late Œeighties, Murray had moved one business ­ the music shop ­ into the new Ford (now Alice) Plaza.
The shopping centre went very badly. Around half the shops were empty.
The owner, Bill Ford, had failed to deliver on a promise to find an "anchor tenant" ­ a big supermarket.
Key tenants including Murray organised a tenants' revolt, but the Plaza owners were already in financial trouble.
In the ensuing fire sale the Necks picked up a 20 per cent ownership of the shopping centre, at a "pretty good price", and are now its single largest shareholder.
Bi-Lo moved in, and today the occupancy is 100 per cent.
NEXT WEEK: Hard-nosed deals are coupled with extraordinarily good staff relationships.


The Pat Gallagher Courts at Ross Park will be out of action from June 3 for six weeks to allow for resurfacing.
This interruption to netball competition mid season presented the executive of the Netball Association with an organisational headache.
Throughout the winter many hundreds of players converge at Ross Park of a Saturday. There are some other courts in town, like at ASHS, but to conduct a full day's competition at such alternative venues would become a logistical nightmare. But the problem's been solved.
Early in the season night netball matches were held. In lieu of the traditional two week round of grading days, it was accepted that A Grade knew their status and could begin their season from day one. Hence on the evening of the sole grading day for 2002, the A Grade championship began.
It worked well under lights, with matches attracting a healthy following and players benefiting from games in the cooler part of the day. Night matches were scheduled for the first Thursday in April, May and June, and to date the innovation has been popular.
It was also recognised that travel for elite commitments, like NT representation, affected the performance potential of clubs in the local competition. A change in the by-laws of the competition allowed for clubs to apply for the rescheduling of matches, to mid-week at night, when more than three players in the team were committed to travel.
In last year's competition the elite commitment by players meant that Sundowners had to forfeit a round, whereas under the new rule this year Sundowners played a "catch up" match against Memo Rovers mid-week. The success of games in the cooler conditions of the evening may lead to playing some late season and finals games under lights.
Catering at the courts has been extended with a licence now being procured and the BBQ more frequently lit up.
On the competition front the game remains at the forefront in the Territory, with, after 18 years, Alice Springs being given the home ground advantage for the NT Titles in August. By then the resurfaced courts will provide Centralians with the opportunity to press home their level of excellence in the sport, as both players and administrators.
Preparation for the titles has been ongoing, with seven A Grade players venturing to Adelaide in a NT side to participate in the SA Smart Play Pre-Season Cup. Captained by Rachel Curtain the team came up against the traditional powerhouses of South Australian club netball, including Contacts, Garville, and the Newton Jaguars.
While the team didn't come home with silverware, they were not handed out the merciless floggings that can occur in national title competition. They also took up the chance to have a worthwhile training game with the SA Under 17 side on the Sunday after the cup matches.
The 17s and 19s also ventured to Adelaide last month for the Nationals, with a win over Tasmania being a confidence boost to the Territory game.
A fortnight ago the schoolgirls competed in Darwin and after a sequence of nine games won seven, drew in one and lost one game to amazingly finish seventh on the ladder!
This aside, on home soil, the Director of Coaching and development officer of the sport, Dale Neilson has been in town working with players, and promoting to potential players in local schools and communities. Simultaneously the selectors have been at work last week and this, choosing sides for the NT Championships at the 13,15,17,19 and Open levels.
Once the courts are resurfaced the business end of the season will begin.
The championships will see five Darwin sides travel south. Palmerston will bring two or three; Katherine and Kununarra are expected, as is the Blackwood club from the Adelaide Hills who have been guests at the championships in recent years. Teams from Tennant Creek and Yulara may also participate.
After the feast of the Territory titles, the local competition will enter its finals series. West, Sundowners, Federal, Rovers and Giants have again provided a strong A Grade presence. Then down through A Reserve, B , C , D ,E and the juniors, hundreds of players have reaped the rewards of participation.
Come October, Ross Park will re ignite for the Masters Games. Coordinated by Michelle Hartung, the Masters Netball is set to be, yet again, a drawcard sport in the week when seniors gather for the "Friendly Games".


The Rover footballers were without their coach John "Moose" Glasson for the weekend challenge against the yardstick of CAFL competition, Pioneer, and suffered.
The Eagles swooped on a rudderless Blues outfit to take a percentage boosting 109-point win. At the final siren Pioneer had scored 21.16 (142) to Rovers' 4.9 (33). In the early game of the day West inflicted a similar hiding to the lack lustre South outfit. The Bloods kicked 20.19 (139) to 6.9 (45). South ran onto the field with some nine regular players missing including trump card Adrian McAdam who had elected to fulfil soccer duties. In the coach's box it was good to see Joey Hayes on board, assisting Shaun Cusack who has been doing it almost on his lonesome as playing coach. In the first term Sean Cantwell got Westies off to a start with a telling goal, followed by contributions from Daryl Lowe and Jarrod Slater. South kept in touch through the agency of Shane Hayes. At the first break only eight points separated the rivals. In the second term however the wheels fell off the Roos somewhat and West took command. They scored 6.4 for the quarter while Souths languished, adding only 1.3 to their score. Westies had goal scores in Rory Hood (2); Steven Squires; Michael Gurney and Jarrod Barrington.
Unlike many a game, the third quarter was played on even terms with West outscoring South, 3.7 to 2.3. A highlight was the three goal contribution from Steven Squires, but many other major scoring opportunities were wasted. The Bloods could well have stitched the game up had they kicked straight. Indeed they lifted the rating in the last session, with Karl Gundersen and Berrington directing play from the centre. Eight goals were registered by West, while South struggled to put one on the board. In the onslaught Sheldon Liddle again caught the eye as a player with potential, and Henry Labastida capped off a good game with some clever work. Throughout the day Joel Flattum again proved his worth, as did Sean Cantwell. For South Donny Scharber did his level best, and Shane Hayes made the most of the opportunities presented. Big man Shaun Cusack was tireless in his efforts, and Gilbert Fishook did enough to rate in the best players. But the 94-point win was a tribute to the Bloods' endeavour, and they now sit on top of the premiership ladder with four consecutive wins. Rovers took to the match with Pioneer, struggling to put any game plan into operation, and more often than not simply booting the ball into the unknown. The game proved the worth of John "Moose' Glasson. Besides being the nurse maid before the game and the dog's body when every body has departed after the game, Glasson's influence on this side as its nerve centre became obvious. The young Pioneers created opportunities at will against a Blues side that offered little resistance. In the first term the Eagles cantered to a 6.5 to 1.0 lead. Trevor Dhu plonked three through the middle and missed a couple as he was delivered the ball with consummate ease. Only a goal from Mark Nash late in the term kept Rovers' hopes alive.
In the second term Pioneer romped through their paces to add another 5.4 as the Blues battled to survive. They scored only one behind and went to the big break needing more than a few pieces of orange. The third term was literally a time when both players and supporters seemed to have a nap. In the process Rovers somehow kept with the Eagles, scoring 2.6 to 3.2. At the break Roy Arbon, in his cool but calculating manner, called for more intensity from the Eagles and they responded accordingly. In the run home they took control and added 7.5 to 1.2.
Trevor Dhu took his match tally to nine goals, giving him 31 goals in three games. Down field however it had been the efforts of Graeme Smith, Lachlan Ross, Aaron Kopp and Geoff Taylor that had stitched up the win. In the Rover camp Edric Coulthard will be able to hold his head high, as will Kima Campbell, Brendan Smith and fill-in coach Jamie Tidy.


The act of painting for Dorothy Napangardi is in good part a family affair.
She paints her father's country, Mina Mina ­ where she too walked as a little girl although she can't remember doing so ­ and she usually works in the company of one or more of her daughters. When her present exhibition at Gallery Gondwana was conceived, it was thought that three of the young women might show with their illustrious mother, winner of last year's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Hence the title "One Mother". As it turns out, only one of the daughters, the second of five, Sabrina Nangala Robinson, is showing, and what an impressive debut. Her early efforts, some of which are on display, used readily recognisable Warlpiri iconography, but she has quickly moved to a more personalised style in rendering her father's country, Pirlinyanu, near Nyirrpi.
Nangala has never actually been to this country, although her little boy has, on a "country visit" with his school.
Not having been there does not appear to affect her quietly confident knowledge of the Ngapa (Water) Dreaming and the rockhole country she depicts. "My father used to walk around in this country when he was a young fella. Before he came to Mount Doreen to work." When asked if it is acceptable to reproduce a photo of a rockhole at Pirlinyanu, she doesn't hesitate: "It's my father's country. Nobody can say anything."
Gondwana staff are planning a country visit for Nangala this winter. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on her development as an artist. A country visit to Mina Mina in April 1999 for Napangardi led to the Salt paintings that have earnt her such wide acclaim. Mina Mina is very remote: two days drive beyond Nyrrpi, the latter stages off-road. Although the visit was brief it was highly significant. Napangardi's aunties went with her and taught her the dance for the major women's ceremonial site.
The jukurrpa story of the site concerns ancestral women collecting ceremonial digging sticks ­ karlangu ­ that had emerged from the ground. A belt of Casuarina decaisneana trees now stands on the spot. Napangardi has painted this story on a large vertical format canvas, Karlangu [1], which hangs on the wall facing the gallery's entrance. It is an austere example of her hallmark style: black ground overlaid with, in this case, an airy grid of white dots, the verticality of the design reflecting the digging stick theme.
Sandhills at Mina Mina [8] by contrast is a lyrical outpouring, incorporating strands of ochres in the flows of dotted white on black.
As you move from canvas to canvas, Napangardi's traceries of dots have a mesmerising effect. You wonder what power ordains the way they separate, converge, intersect. That it is a power, part sheer artistry, part spiritual, is in no doubt.
Little wonder that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney is organising a mid-career survey show of this major artist, as part of next summer's Sydney Festival. (Kathleen Petyarre is the only other Indigenous artist to have had a survey show at the MCA.) It will include Napangardi's major award-winning pieces and her early work.


An independent report has found serious irregularities in the financial affairs of the Aboriginal-owned Yipirinya School in Alice Springs.
The report says: "The lack of any management reports and financial accounts puts serious doubt on the ability of the principal and council to fulfil funding agent requirements.
"This lack of transparency has developed into a mistrust of financial procedures within the school."
Meanwhile a major staff dispute went before the Industrial Relations Commission sitting in Alice Springs last week.
The report, leaked to the Alice Springs News, says nearly a quarter of a million dollars is "unacquitted", and more than $700,000 ­ apparently operational funding ­ is being spent on the construction of a multi-purpose hall.
Meanwhile the school, funded by the NT and Federal governments, had more than a million dollars in the bank at the end of the 2001 calendar year.
The report says "it would appear that the majority of fund providers have received reports, however, several have significant unexpended amounts remaining, which could result in requests for the return of than funding". The salary costs for the "administrator / accountant", whose performance was vigorously attacked by the report, were $81,000 ­ far more than paid to the principal.
The report, prepared by the Anangu Accounting Agency, according to school council minutes, was commissioned by the Federal Department of Education, Science and Training.
The Alice News asked NT Senator Nigel Scullion for a comment but none had been received by deadline.
A spokesperson for the NT Education Department, which this fiscal year is contributing $164,000 to the running of the school, says she was unaware of the report but would be "very concerned about any improprieties".
She says NT funding is tied to enrolment and attendance, but the report quotes "student attendance policy" among a long list of issues for which a policies and procedures manual should be drawn up "as a matter or urgency".
Other issues are decision-making policy, professional conduct, travel claims, student health and well being, vehicles, purchasing procedures, daily timetable.
Financial issues requiring defined procedures, according to the report, include budgeting, monthly management accounts, annual financial statements and payroll processing.
The report also says cheques should not be pre-signed, and the principal should be made a co-signatory.
The Alice News was unable to get a comment from the school.
Meanwhile Simon Hall, the NT organiser for the Independent Education Union, says the Industrial Relations Commission last Thursday made several orders.
Mr Hall says Deputy President Hampton ordered the school to accord principal Dianne De Vere with the "rightful position as recognised all around Australia".
He also ordered the school council to negotiate with the union in a cooperative manner about a range of industrial issues. Mr Hall says these included issues of classification, correct rates of pay and the general enforcement of the industrial agreement.
Mr Hall says the union has now withdrawn a threat of industrial action.

The current bid to use treated effluent from the sewage ponds for horticulture is the NT Government's first serious attempt ­ but almost certainly not the last ­ to reduce the waste of water from the controversial facility.
PAWA Minister Kon Vatskalis makes it clear that any solution appropriate to our desert environment will be expensive, require some continuing use of ponds, which currently take up valuable real estate, and will need to be sensitive to public attitudes towards drinking recycled sewage.
The proposal currently at the top of the list is pumping treated water from beneath the town ­ now used only to water parks and sporting fields ­ into the mains, and bringing treated effluent into town for the public lawns.
It's one of a string of options under ­ very drawn out ­ consideration by PAWA and local community groups (see Glenn's Glimpse page 2).
Mr Vatskalis says this would be a first step towards taking the pressure off the currently used Mereenie and Roe Creek basins where the levels have been dropping for some years.
He comes to his portfolio with an unusual string of qualifications.
He has a degree in Environmental Health and a graduate diploma in Environmental Science, and prior to entering politics last year, worked for the departments of health in WA and the NT.
He spent several years in Port Hedland which "had the greenest ovals in the Pilbara", watered by treated effluent from a sewage plant very similar to that of Alice Springs.
Mr Vatskalis says Karratha, Newman, Tom Price and Broome followed suite.
However, he readily concedes that Alice Springs' sewage plant, smelly and breeding mosquitoes potentially carrying fatal diseases, is ­ now ­ in the wrong place.
He says: "It takes a lot of space but you have to remember, when this area was developed, nobody was going to live down there [outside the Gap] because there was plenty of land in Alice Springs.
"At the time it was the best solution.
"It doesn't require extra energy.
"You only need properly designed ponds and let the sun do the rest.
"But you don't design this type of plant any more if there is pressure for land."
He says every day, Alice Springs pumps eight million litres of water into the sewage ponds, which hold around 600 million litres, with evaporation the principal method of disposal.
Mr Vatskalis says the water is "sitting out there, just going up into the air, in an arid environment".
But he offers no ready solution to that, the horticultural scheme aside. Its future won't be known until after submissions close in June.
All other alternatives to the ponds, despite repeated public outcries, have been paid little attention by successive CLP administrations over more than a quarter of a century. And unless the NT's first Labor government now spends some very real money, the measures will remain piecemeal and inadequate.
Mr Vatskalis says re-establishing ponds anywhere else would be "very, very expensive".
There are still no hard figures on how much a purification plant to drinking water standard would cost; what the locals would think about it; how much space a state-of-the-art plant would take up; and what benefit home buyers would gain from freeing up some two square kilometres of freehold land, unencumbered by native title, just five minutes' drive from the CBD, but now occupied by the system of sewage ponds.
However, Mr Vatskalis says the cost of a fully-fledged recycling plant is prohibitive because the town is too small.
"The rule of thumb is, the higher the volume, the lower the cost per litre.
"There is not much point in treating eight million litres a day."
He says in Europe, such plants serve communities of five to 10 million people, which makes them economically viable.
Mr Vatskalis anticipates public resistance to recycled sewerage as drinking water, or even to injecting it into underground basins for later use, although he concedes that there has not been a survey of local opinion.
He says in other states "people didn't like the idea of injecting [treated effluent] into the aquifer".
"We have a serious public problem.
"It doesn't matter if the same water runs down the creek, and 20 kilometres further down just naturally seeps into the ground water."
Even in Israel and the US treated effluent is used principally for agriculture.
"It is perceived that there is drinking water available here in Alice Springs from underground basins.
"Effluent is a last resort."
The argument that millions of people depend on recycled Murray River water doesn't cut much ice with Mr Vatskalis: "I'm very glad I'm not the Minister for the Environment in any of these jurisdiction."
Asked to comment on Adelaide's dependence on Murray water he says: "I rest my case. Taste their beer. It is terrible!"
Mr Vatskalis says the degree of treatment for Alice sewage water ­ considering that every further step towards purity incurs greater costs ­ will depend on the demand found in the consultation process finally getting up to speed.
He says the irritating rotten egg smell from the ponds can be alleviated even by purification processes that fall short of drinking water standards: "The moment you put oxygen in you reduce the hydrogen sulphate and blue green algae content, improve the water quality, and cut back the noxious smells."

COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: The nitty-gritty of water conservation in Alice Springs.

In Alice Springs we turn on the tap and safe drinking water comes out. But how clever is Alice Springs' overall water system?
The conclusion is " not very clever" when the basic facts are considered:
€ Our underground water supply is ancient (20,000 years old), is not replenished by rainfall and will cost $70 million to relocate to a new borefield, yet we never have water restrictions and our water conservation messages are old and stale. € Household water consumption averages a staggering 1,400 litres per day, that's amongst the highest in Australia and mostly due to garden irrigation, yet there are no incentives to install water-efficient appliances or convert to arid zone gardens. € The water price is heavily subsidized by government (priced at 69 cents per kilolitre compared to the supply cost of $1.20), despite overwhelming evidence from elsewhere that if the price is increased, consumption falls and bills stay the same. € "System water losses" (leaks, faulty meters and water theft) were a staggering 2,100 million litres last year, up from 900 million litres in previous years and amongst the highest percentage for any Australian water utility. € Effluent flows of 3,000 million litres per year are deliberately evaporated into the air at the sewage ponds to get rid of it rather than re-using it as a valuable resource. € Of this, around 500 million litres overflows to Ilparpa swamp, creating the worst mosquito health hazard in Central Australia and a hotbed of weeds, feral fish and bird diseases. € Current effluent reuse is limited to irrigating horse paddocks at Blatherskite Park and a defunct tree farm. € Water under the Todd River (the Town Basin), whilst used to irrigate sports ovals, the golf course and parks, is not well-managed and is causing salinity problems due to high water tables. € Rainwater tanks are not encouraged and greywater reuse is illegal in gardens. € Stormwater is not captured and soaked in by "water sensitive urban design" in suburbs, instead being rushed into the Todd River by elaborate gutters and drains. Last Friday a water workshop was held in town to progress the Alice Springs Urban Water Management Strategy.
Started two years ago, it promises to reverse the above scenarios to the point where Alice Springs could become a showcase for arid zone urban water management, rather than remain an example of what not to do. It could become a saleable Desert Knowledge commodity.
The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has been an active community participant in this process that has already seen:
€ PAWA undertake numerous technical studies to clarify the options for managing the borefield, Town Basin and effluent reuse. € The Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Environment (DIPE) agree (on ALEC's initiation) to conduct a water demand management study to work out where and how water can be saved in town. € Completion of a pilot Waterwise program at OLSH in 2001/02 (again initiated by ALEC) that will expand into a broader program next year. € Formation of an Ilparpa Swamp Rehabilitation Group to fix the swamp (chaired by ALEC). € A community workshop held in August 2000 to get input on community desires for town water management. From Friday's workshop, it was clear that PAWA is now focused on their new corporate status and hence all initiatives must be financially viable in their own right to be pursued by PAWA.
It was refreshing however to see other government agencies (and ALEC) arguing that a more holistic approach needs to be taken if Alice Springs is to end up with optimal water solutions that deliver improved environmental, social and financial returns to PAWA, government and the broad community over time (a Œtriple-bottom-line' approach).
One example is that PAWA has suggested there is no commercial benefit in either increasing or decreasing current annual water extraction from the Roe Creek borefield.
However, it is clear that a reduction in the town's high water consumption is critical for its long-term viability.
To reduce water consumption in town, an investigation will soon commence based on a similar successful program in Kalgoorlie in 1994. That program resulted in the free supply and installation by the WA Water Corporation of water-efficient shower heads, dual flush toilets, mulch, tap timers, drippers, native plants and other things for houses, hotels, schools and businesses.
Government expenditure was recouped by reduction in water volumes and hence less subsidies paid for its supply (similar to Alice Springs). Frustratingly, the current Alice Springs program was meant to commence over 12 months ago but has been continually delayed by government bureaucratic hurdles.
ALEC has recently written to the Minster asking him to hurry his public servants along.
A critical aspect to reducing water consumption is ongoing community education, involvement and incentives to act.
DIPE has recently appointed a water education officer who will progress this role.
This will value-add to ALEC's existing Waterwatch program (until recently run by Robbie Henderson) that works with schools and the general community on water awareness issues. ALEC has also recently secured a $15,000 grant from the philanthropic Myer Foundation in Melbourne to run an innovative Home Water Educators project in town commencing later in 2002.


"The decision of how people vote eventually in Alice Springs is theirs, my determination is to be a good, inclusive government and to deliver on our promises and policies." Chief Minister Clare Martin talks exclusively to KIERAN FINNANE.
The Centre is still CLP country: three out of our five Members of Parliament belong to the party that used to look like it was born to rule in the Territory. How is Labor's Clare Martin as Chief Minister going to win hearts and minds in the Centre?
Nationally she's acclaimed as a "class act".
In December last year she was a guest of the Council for Infrastructure Development in Sydney: 180 people turned out to hear her; compared to 140 for Bill Clinton, and 160 for the Prime Minister.
More recently she gave a speech at the Sydney Institute, a conservative think tank, and got a crowd of well over 100.
"The rest of Australia is still curious about the change of government in the Territory, curious that we have spat out a woman for Chief Minister, and they want to hear whether it's a different Territory now.
"It's a curiosity that I hope we can turn into real benefit for the Territory. "If it translates into greater investment, greater migration particularly of the professional people we need in health and education and other business areas, greater tourism potential, then I'll keep doing it as much as I can." In the Centre, the " sell" is more critical: it has to translate into votes.
Her Government is notoriously strapped for cash; there'll be no big spending in this term. How hard is that going to make it?
Ms Martin describes the discovery of the " black hole" as the lowest point of her Chief Ministership thus far.
"We were just coming to terms with winning government and we had carefully costed all our initiatives against the budget papers.
"To be told they were rubbery, to the point of being nine times under what the deficit was, I felt a real kick in the guts about that."
On the bright side ­ she describes herself as " an incurable optimist" ­ it gave her novice Cabinet a crash course in government processes. Having come to office in August, they'd produced a " mini-budget" by November.
Labor has made much of the " black hole" but hasn't the Federal Government's boost to the Territory's coffers helped overcome it?
"The recent readjustment of relativities from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, to the tune of $76.1m, wasn't a gift from Peter Costello to plug the CLP's black hole. It was actually a recognition that it costs more to deliver services in the Territory, and to be able to deliver them on parity with other states.
"If you look at it logically ­ and kindly perhaps ­ the reason the CLP have blown budgets over the last three financial years is that it was costing more to deliver services than we were actually getting in.
"But we still have to raise the revenue to overcome the CLP's black hole."
Labor came to office as a reforming government. Is there any area on their agenda that has been compromised by the lack of funds?
"There are not things that are compromised but we've had to look at our priorities and adjust a little. We made it pretty clear in the election that our top priority was education and training associated with that. In the mini-budget we put more money into education, considerably more money ­ $34m ­ into health, and further funds into police."
The temperature rises when Ms Martin talks about education and training, especially for Indigneous people. She stakes her government's reputation on making a difference there.
"We've pulled education and training together as a department and are now building specific training and employment strategies.
"In education specifically, the Collins report is now of top priority, we've got the task force together, the recommendations are being followed through on.
"We are going to achieve the national literacy benchmarks, that MAP testing for Year Three and Year Five.
"We've made a major commitment to that with the Commonwealth. "If we fail on Indigenous education, we've failed. That's our bottom line."
Is a shift possible within her first term?
"We've set out to achieve that."
In other areas Ms Martin believes Territorians will accept belt tightening if it's fair, if everyone, including the government, is doing it.
"In terms of spending on government we are very lean and mean. We're running on two ministers less than the CLP did and that was at a time when all of us were learning the ropes.
"I think ministers were working very hard, and across the board we don't have the extravagance that you saw with the CLP. "My concern is that we establish strongly our priorities across the Territory, and that we make sure that the decisions we are making, and the resource decisions especially, are across the Territory.
"We should be providing opportunities in Alice Springs for enterprise development where appropriately a government does that, we're making sure that health and education work well in Alice Springs and surrounding areas.
"The decision of how people vote eventually in Alice Springs is theirs, my determination is to be a good, inclusive government and to deliver on our promises and policies."
Labor won government on the strength of the eight per cent swing to them in Darwin, in a campaign that focussed on Ms Martin as leader. She has always lived in Darwin, which, taking in Palmerston, claims more than half the population of the Territory, and she enjoys a high profile there. How does she see the Territory as a whole? Is it an artificial structure imposed from Darwin on great and irreconcilable disparities or can it be a unity?
"When you look at the profile, the Territory has a fair degree of affluence, but we also have a lot of poverty. In those terms there is quite a strong divide between Territorians.
"Once you get past the traditional Berrimah Line, there is a real sense in the Territory that people have been excluded for a long time and that has built a lot of resentment.
"I also thought that the change of government would be divisive, but I don't think it has been. I've been very gratified by sections of the community who didn't support us saying, ŒWell you're government now, let's get down and work with you'.
"Community Cabinet, which has already been to Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Yulara, and Nhulunbuy, is one of her responses to the Berrimah Line.
Ms Martin knows she has to win the support of the business community, and she argues her inclusive style is the way to do it. She nominates last year's Economic Summit as one of the high points of the term.
"For the first time you had people around the Territory who had been here for lifetimes or many years who'd never met each other, who'd never talked about whether there was any shared aspiration.
"When Galarrwuy Yunupingu meets major business people and they realise there are shared aspirations, that's really important.
"To have an Economic Summit that says land rights exist, native title exists, how do we move forward from here, how do we have economic development on Aboriginal land, that's really exciting."
So there's a different spirit about, but is there something concrete happening?
"You've got to have the spirit change, the will change, we're starting to see that. That doesn't mean it's not going to be tough.
"But I was thrilled that in the first six months we opened up 70,000 square kilometres of land in Central Australia and South-East Arnhem for exploration, just by simply talking to the stakeholders.
"The process of negotiating directly with the native title holders has started in Alice Springs.
"Alice Springs will only move forward once you have all the stakeholders talking to one another.
"We've had a much better relationship with the land councils than the previous government ever did. "There's going to be some robust discussions, but certainly they are very strategic and important groups in the Territory.
"They need to be dealt with appropriately and be part of decision-making.
"Over the years, you had Chief Ministers who had never met with the land councils, had never met with the chairmen. That was a starting point for us."
NEXT: The road to power: how did the girl from a large Irish Catholic family on Sydney's north shore become the woman who led Labor to victory in the Territory?

The car dealership Desert City Motors has been placed under voluntary administration and ceased trading on Monday.
Proprietor Peter Harvey (pictured), ran for Braitling as a CLP candidate last year, and is a past president of the Finke Desert Race.
He says a downturn in car sales had caused recent difficulties, and delays with obtaining a major dealership ­ Mazda ­ had sealed the company's fate.
Mr Harvey says he estimates the firm's "short term" debts at about $200,000, and "probably another $200,000 on top".
It is not yet clear how much creditors will be able to recover.
He says the company is owed about $100,000 ­ some of it possibly in bad debts. The ex-policeman from South Australia, in town for 16 years, has taken part in a major land development scheme in Stephens Road. He says he won't seek to enter politics again and is not sure what he will do in the future.
The dealership, whose premises were opened by Chief Minister Shane Stone in May 1997, will be up for sale until about the end of the week, and Mr Harvey says there is some interest from interstate.

LETTERS: Liquor traders say give trial a fair go.

Sir,- Whilst at work last Wednesday our day was disturbed by the sensational headlines on the front page of the Alice Springs News of May 8.
There for all to see were two photos; one of The Todd Tavern Bottle Shop and the other showing an empty port cask, a 750ml VB bottle and other rubbish, with the bold statement: "Some traders Œpushing port'".
We were given the opportunity to comment on the trial restrictions but chose to decline. In our view one month into the trial period is too soon to have a valid comment.
Everyone was expecting a shift in product. We all thought it would be port and RTDs, so why is DASA causing such a furore? Have the rules changed? Who is causing headlines now? And not giving the trial a fair go? Who is crying foul? Yet again licensees are being blamed for selling products that problem drinkers are now choosing as their product of choice. Could it be that our warning went unheeded because we are only concerned with dollars?
At many a public meeting we constantly warned of the dangers of product transference and that we would not lose money but in fact could make more. So please don't continue to use us as your whipping boys.
We were opposed to the restrictions and the removal of wine casks but yet again we were accused of being irresponsible for not giving the restrictions a fair go.
After seeing our take away outlet on the front page of the paper I thought I should read the article, I thought that it would have some mention of our premise but after reading the article there was no mention.
Was it because we chose not to comment? Or was it because we don't display port in the take-away section? Whatever the reason could someone please explain why our bottle shop was used on the front page?
Someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words so why would you read on? You have achieved your aim: you have succeeded in reaching the masses in our community who can't read or who choose not to and in the process you have used our venue.
We did speak to the editor who informed us that our Bottle Shop was the easiest to photograph! I didn't realise that all other take-away outlets were so far out of sight.
I suggest that we are an easy target and that maybe the paper and its staff are too lazy to try and obtain a photo of other venues, after all they would have to enter the premise or property and may be subject to people questioning them. The editor has assured us that he could see no reason for our concerns. Journalists must see things differently from the rest of the community.
The people that have spoken to us are disgusted with the pictures and could see no relevance to our premises at all, but could see that it would be easy to assume the headlines referred to us.
We have restrictions and licensees are selling the products that they are legally allowed to.
Who knows what the next 11 months will hold? But hysterical comments and headlines won't help our problem drinkers.
Practise what you have been preaching, it is only a trial after all!
Ray & Diane Loechel
The Todd Tavern
ED ­ The purpose of the night-time picture, as the caption underneath made clear, was to illustrate the trial's finding that problem drinking now occurs later in the day and evening. Most other large turnover bottle shops (some of which we have pictured in the past) are inside shopping centres, and the lighting is the same night and day.

Sir,- I would like to take advantage of your letters column to make an apology to the proprietors of Northside Foodland Liquor Store, against whom some statements were made in your last week's leading article for which DASA feels itself responsible, and which may have given an inaccurate impression.
Discussions with the Proprietor and the Manager of the liquor store have convinced me of the following:
1) There was no intention to profiteer in the offering of Hoyt's Food Essences for sale. This was a genuine attempt to get rid of surplus stock.
2) There is no substance to the suggestion that clients of the Sobering Up Shelter had been consuming these essences purchased from the Northside Store. Sales figures, which the manager was kind enough to show me, convince me that no inappropriate sales have taken place.
On behalf of the President of DASA I should like to apologise to the proprietor and manager of Northside Foodland Liquor Store for any adverse effects they may have suffered as a result of these imputations.
Nick Gill
Manager, DASA

ANN CLOKE's COLUMN turns one year old.
It's a year since the inception of My Town.
Around Thursday I mentioned to David that I didn't know what to write about this week: there's usually something in particular going on that attracts attention, excites or angers and warrants comment. There's a lot happening, but much has already been written about it.
You've got a weekend coming up, David said, plenty of time for things to develop E
What happens if they don't?
I enjoy your column, people tell me: Sally, from AJ's, did on Thursday at the huge Murray Neck Homeworld Opening.
Terry, our next door neighbour, mentioned over a drink a few weeks ago, that he was in the middle of doing something and that it was a bit of a conundrumEA pickle? A poser? Perhaps the sheer joy of living in the Alice and weeks of socialising with friends, Norm, Lee, Terry, Alison, Vicki, Peter, Franca, Freddo, Liz, Garth, Anne, William and others have taken their toll: my brain is now pickled!
Which could explain why I didn't pick many winners out at the track. Norm had a corporate tent for Kwikcon, so we were able to eat, drink and rub shoulders with people in the know (or not) before heading out to place bets with friendly on-course bookmakers.
It was a super day.
Many interstate race-going enthusiasts have said that our facilities, clubhouse and track combined with the general ambience and range views would rival many country racecourses, possibly even Darwin's!
This can only add fuel to the already fiery relationship between The Red Centre and the Top End.
Centralian operators are gearing up for a big tourism season ­ visitors wandering around town, interstate rego plates and coaches bravely negotiating our traffic circles in and around the CBD, are promising signs.
It's comforting to learn that Virgin Blue hasn't entirely shelved the idea of flying into Alice Springs, but at the risk of sounding "old hat" (not the milliners' race day delights), we desperately need that second airlineE
While Darwin is vying with Cairns to become the new regional international gateway to Australia, no decisions relating to Centralian skies are likely to be made in the immediate future.
We'll continue to miss out on visitors who don't have the time to take a train, coach, camel or self-drive, but might consider an interlude in the Red Centre if competitive fares were offered.
My niece, god-daughter, Emma, big sis to Lesley-Ann and Bart, turned 18 at the weekend, so David and I hosted a little family celebration on Friday night. Reg, Emma's godfather, and Marge joined us. Reg said that he was pleased I'd been overseeing Emma's religious instruction: I hadn't realised that he wasn't!
I was thinking about his comments, the "Honk If You Think You're Jesus" bumper bar stickers which appear spasmodically around the town, religion per se, and that Emma and her friend Davin are heading to Darwin to watch the V8 Supercars battle it out at Hidden Valley.
I've asked them to do a bit of a survey whilst they're on the road: a "Honk If You Think Alice Also Merits Virgin Air".
I'm confident there'll be much horn blowing Eand Centralian kids will know exactly what that big silver bird is Eplanespotting, not trainspotting E
An older couple, visiting from Nowra, told me on Friday how lucky we are to live here.
They said: We love it! We'll be back soon.
Some days are so much better than others Eit's a real conundrum.


Aussie Rules fans enjoyed a top fixture at Traeger Park on Sunday when West and Rover fought out a game that went down to the wire.
In the curtain raiser Pioneer had a convincing yet predictable win over Federal, but the game was worth watching.
West defeated Rover 17.5 (107) to 12.7 (79); and Pioneer scored a 17.14 (116) victory over Federal 8.7 (55).
West began their game running, Michael Gurney, who has in recent years been better known as a defender, relished the opportunity in the forwards, booting the Bloods' first goal.
Prize recruit Jarrod Berrington then popped into the play with a telling second full pointer to instil an air of supremacy in the West ranks.
This was soon countered however by Chris Tilmouth's torpedo punt goal from some 50 metres to keep the Blues in the hunt.
Jarrad Slater replied with a goal for West, only to see Josh Schultz score for the Blues, followed by a Nathan McGregor six pointer right on the bell. In the quarter Rovers suffered from the yellow carding of Brett Wright, and so did well to lead 4.2 to 3.1 at the first break.
West brought themselves back into contention when Rovers, from a back pocket kick in, dropped the ball into the hands of Wests' Justin Bentley who capitalised by booting a goal.
Josh Schultz didn't allow the Blues' rhythm to fade as he replied with two goals to keep his side in front. Damon Prenzler came good with another goal for Rover and Tilmouth added another to give his side a feeling of confidence. In the West quarter Berrington was literally "sucked in" to a dummy spit and rewarded with a yellow card which could have proven fatal for the Bloods. The team from Milner Road rallied however and had Rory Hood run rampant in the forward area, posting two successive majors to have them within touch at 8.4 to 6.2 at half time. West were trailing by two goals and in touch, but in the dying minutes of the quarter Dylan Brooke fell awkwardly and left the ground, hospital bound with an ankle injury.
In the third, and telling quarter, West made a move but didn't reap the rewards largely due to a lack of system in the forward line. Time and again they blazed into the goal square area only to see Edric Coulthard take possession and drive the ball back into Rovers' attacking zone.
With due respect to defenders, Josh Flattum and friends across half back held the fort for Wests while Carl Gunderson and Andrew Crispe came in to the game in the pivot and forward areas. West scored five goals to three for the quarter.
Michael McDonald was responsible for two goals; and Berrington, Crispe and Hood scored, to have West only four points in arrears at three quarter time. Champions for the Blues' cause were the veteran from Southern AP John Winderlich, who scored a crucial goal, and the champion of a bygone era, Nathan McGregor who scored a further two.
Early in the last quarter Gunderson did the job for West, putting them in front for the first time in the game.
In response Brett Wright calmly put through a 50-metre pearler to arrest the lead for Rovers. The lead was short lived however as the West skipper, Andrew Crispe, in his return match took control of proceedings. He took advantage of forward play and scored a goal, followed by one from Hood. But then as a true captain he drilled a major from 50 metres to put the game in Westies' hands. The Blues wilted and the Bloods ran on. Henry Labastida ran in a major and then Rory Hood completed the trick, giving West victory by 28 points.
West were well served by Sheldon Liddle, Crispe, Gunderson, Labistida, Hood and Slater. For the losing side, Edric Coulthard was a worthy recipient of the man of the match award. Schultz played extremely well, as did Brendan Smith in defence.
The curtain raiser was a first versus fifth draw, with Pioneers hot favourites from the outset against Federal.
To add to Federal's woes, Daniel Palmer, and Ralph and Craig Turner, three guns, did not run on.
Pioneer blazed early putting on five goals to nil in the first term.
To their credit Federal found their feet and returned a reply from then on. The second term was a three goal to two affair. At the big break Pioneer held a 8.8 to 2.2 lead.
In the third term it was expected that the Eagles would steam to victory. However, Federal battled well. Trevor Dhu was in hot form in front of goal and on his way to another 11-goal haul for the match. Lachlan Ross was again putting in well, and Adam Taylor was a live wire around the packs. The little battlers in the Feds' quarter included Darren Young, who again must have picked up best and fairest points for his club, as well as Farron Gorey and Charlie Lynch.
The 12.11 to 5.5 was far from the three-quarter time scoreline that many pundits would have expected.
In the final term the same dogged approach by the underdogs saw them save the day from a wipeout. Feds scored three goals while the champions put on five.
The 61 points win was a tribute to Pioneers, but did not leave Federal in tatters.
Trevor Dhu again showed he is on track for a 100- goal season. He led as a true forward and had the ball passed to him on a platter on many occasions. Down field the good work of Robby Taylor, Wayne McCormack and Graeme Smith set the scene for victory.
For Federal, Desmond Jack impressed with five goals. Young, Gorey, Lynch and Graham Hayes were most competitive.
This week West play South in the pipe opener, and Pioneer play Rovers. On form one would expect West and Pioneer to come home with the bacon.


When is an undefeated team and grand final victor not a winner?
When they come from south of the Berrimah Line, that's when!
Junior sport in the Territory may be alive and well, but in shaping a new administrative structure to conduct NT Junior sporting competitions, organisers may have unleashed a red herring to ruffle the very fins of the big barras of the north.
Last week a team of Centralians ventured to the capital of our Territory to participate in an Australian Rules Under 16 Carnival. From Alice, Danny Measures, a great dad, volunteered as coach; Ian Taylor, from the FDF, was manager; and Cal Dean, a retiree who gives his heart to the game in the Centre, accompanied the team north.
Each player contributed $500 to the cost of the trip and the CAFL came good with $2000.
In Darwin the Alice team applied themselves to the task at hand. They defeated Sanderson High School first up, 8.5 (53) to 0.1 (1). They then accounted for Elliott, 10.9 (69) to nil.
Palmerston were the next to go down when Alice defeated them 6.5 (41) to 2.3 (15).
The Katherine side then took on Alice and found themselves beaten 13.4 (82) to nil.
Next on the Alice agenda were St Johns, a traditional force in the competition. Alice again ruled with a 9.3 (57) to 2.2 (14) win. In the grand final, Alice remained undefeated by downing Dripstone High, 5.4 (34) to 4.4 (28). In most terms of reference, a side that has gone through with six straight wins, including the grand final would be declared the winner overall, but not so apparently when a country team is competing in Darwin.
Our boys were presented with a medal each as Combined Team Premiers. We also had Matt Campbell, Nelson Kenny, Luke Ross, Luke Adams and Braydon Buckley named in the Under 15 NT squad. Other players no doubt should qualify for Under16 selection when that squad is named shortly.
But then the organisers came in with a whammy that left the undefeated team and its supporters scratching their heads!
To be the true winners of the Carnival all members must have represented a single "cluster" group from the Territory! The Alice team did not represent a single "cluster" and so were determined as being the combined victors but not outright winners.
The "cluster" concept is a bureaucratic one. In recent times the Territory has been divided up into these succinct subsets to assist in effective administration. In Darwin there are two clusters. Palmerston is one in its own right. Then in the South are two clusters, the Desert Oaks and the Central Storm. It is the strip of railway line through Alice that divides these clusters. Hence ASHS kids and those from Anzac or Centralian cannot, in terms of cluster affiliation, be mixed on (or off) the field of sport, as an Alice Springs team. The Desert Oaks conduct their operations west of the railway in Alice and so have ASHS, Papunya, Yuendumu, Kintore etc in their holding yard. The Storm on the other hand encompass schools from Borroloola to Finke, including Tennant Creek and Elliot. To draw a combined team from either of these clusters would be a challenge, or even a nightmare, a budgetary impossibility, and very much unlike the position the two Darwin clusters and the Palmerston cluster find themselves in. In their wisdom the sports organisers have dictated that teams could come to the Carnival in Darwin, but if not playing as exclusively cluster members they had no chance of winning the coveted outright victors' trophy.
Because the Alice Springs team travelled as one, the defining line, the railway line through our town meant they could not win, regardless of their achievements. In providing their child with an opportunity to compete at Territory level, Alice families put together $500 a head and the CAFL added more, so that they could go to Darwin only to be told that being undefeated and winning the grand final does not constitute being a true "winner".
The winner's trophy now sits with the second placed side, in the Dripstone High School china cabinet!
To some, the matter may sound like another Alice Springs dummy spit. But in netball the same scenario also applies, as it does with all other junior sports at this level. The drums are beating that the Berrimah Line is alive and well!


What drives a mother to kill her children?
It's a big question with no simple answers, as the Year 12 drama class at OLSH has found out.

When they first read Euripides' Medea, they all hated the notorious ancient Greek murderess.
Then as they explored the text and the characters, their attitudes totally changed. Andrea Jennings, who plays Medea, says she and her fellow cast members want to take their audience on this same journey.

"At the end of the play I don't want them to clap, I want them to be arguing in their minds, like we have, about why she did it, how she could do it.
"It was not just a simple act of revenge. She is a woman who has been taken to her last limits, whose world has fallen apart."
One of the ways the students developed their understanding was through writing their character's biography as an autobiography.
Natalie Wheeler, who plays Medea's children's nurse, says if she gets really into her character, she'll cry. She wrote in her autobiography that she was Medea's nurse as well as the children's, so her emotional involvement with them all runs deep.
"It'll hit hard," warns Andrea.
Apart from tackling these challenging themes in a classical Greek text, the cast has lost two members and lately, Andrea and Nicole Frahn, who plays the Queen of Corinth, have been rehearsing opposite phantoms.
The only male in the class, who had the role of Jason, Medea's husband of Argonauts' fame, left school, while the girl who was playing the Queen's daughter, moved to Darwin.
OLSH is flying in former Centre Stage actor, Cale Morgan, now making a career in Sydney, to take the role of Jason.
He'll have just four days of intensive rehearsals with the cast, though he and Andrea have had a run-though on the phone.
"I didn't think it would work," says Andrea, "but it has helped. At least I know now what he sounds like."
Meanwhile, a Year 10 student, Brianna Tonkins, has taken on the role of the princess.
The absence of male drama students has meant a number of adaptations to the play, a problem the Year 11 class haven't had to face. In fact, they've got boys playing girls.
Their production is a comedy, The Poet and the Women, by Aristophanes, in which a man in drag infiltrates the Vestal Virgins to find out "what women want" (contemporary allusions intended).
According to cast member Alan Tunney, the challenge, once they had understood the classical text, was to put across its "adult themes without being tacky".
"It's full of double entendre," says fellow actor Rohan Naismith.
The two are keen to promote drama studies to boys out there.
"Being on stage is a great confidence booster," says Alan.
"We do voice exercises and that really helps with other things like oral presentations. It gives you good skills all round," says Rohan, "like memorising lines and not being ashamed of your self when you have to get up in public." The plays, directed by Bryn Williams and both M rated, will be performed next Thursday, May 23, at Araluen.


The Drug and Alcohol Services Association (DASA) is accusing some liquor merchants of a "disgraceful level of port pushing" in a deliberate attempt to undermine the month old trial of liquor restrictions.
There is agreement amongst observers on both sides of the debate that Stanley Tawny Port has replaced five litre casks of Fruity Gordo as the product of choice for problem drinkers in Alice.
The Evaluation Reference Group (ERG), chaired by Dr Ian Crundall, meeting for the first time last Thursday, identified "product substitution" as a major negative effect of the trial to date.
The ERG based their views on feedback from the public - some 15 letters and emails - and observations of the group's members.
They represent local and Territory governments, business organisations including licensees, and Aboriginal organisations.
Dr Crundall said there were consistent comments about drunks being more aggressive, which he thought was related to the higher alcohol content of what they were drinking, combined perhaps with the frustration of not being able to buy wine.
Licensee of the Gapview Motel, Elio Carrabs, said his business had two of "the biggest weeks ever" in the month of April, by a margin of "thousands of dollars".
"The restrictions were supposed to cut down on drinking but we are still selling the same volume of alcohol if not more," said Mr Carrabs.
"A pretty standard buy is two tawny ports, that's one litre less of liquid but a higher alcohol content.
"Jim Beam is also selling well.
"Drinking is starting later but the higher alcohol content means they catch up fast and at the end of the day they are still in the same state of intoxication."
Mr Carrabs was referring to Aboriginal customers, who make up about half of his clientele. They are the chief patrons of the bottleshop during the day.
Non-Aboriginal patrons come mainly after work, he says, to buy a bottle of wine or a carton of beer.
The Gapview was not among the bottleshops surveyed between 2 and 3pm last Thursday by DASA president Anne Mosey.
In her view, Liquorland in the Coles complex was the worst offender in "port pushing".
They had, she reported to DASA, a "very large stack of Stanley Tawny Port, about 1.5m high and wide, to the right of the sales counter" displaying a large yellow label marked "Special" and priced at $12.99.
Woolworths was offering several shelves full of Stanley Tawny Port at $10.49 per cask, "the cheapest price of those checked".
The bottleshop at Milner Road Supermarket, owned by Tangentyere Council, had a one metre high stack of the product bearing an A4-sized sign, "Everyday Discount $14.95". This was the highest price of the bottleshops surveyed.
There was a similar stack, not labelled with a price or special sign, at the Heavitree Supermarket.
The bottleshop at Bi-Lo had sold out of the product when Ms Mosey visited.
At Northside Foodland's bottleshop Ms Mosey was shocked to see food essences (vanilla, almond etc) in 375 ml bottles on special for $5.50, being promoted alongside the Director's Special Port.
DASA manager Nick Gill reported this to a licensing inspector.
"How cynical can you get?" he asked.
"This stuff has roughly a 60 per cent alcohol content.
"Staff at the DASA shelter have been telling me that some people are coming in smelling as if they have been drinking methylated spirits. I believe they have probably been drinking these essences.
"This push of tawny port and food essences is not a simple example of profiteering.
"My belief is that the licensees have a vested interest in the liquor trial proving unsuccessful."
The News understands that the food essences were voluntarily withdrawn from the shelves after discussions with a licensing inspector.
Mr Gill said he was "very pleased".
Foodland's Paul Venturin was unavailable for comment.
Licensing Commissioner Peter Allen, who on Monday was unaware of the case (inspectors are employed by the Racing, Gaming and Licensing Division of the NT Treasury, not by the commission), said nonetheless that it is not illegal to sell food essences.
"Because of the high alcohol content of the products, it would be a breach of licensing conditions to have them on general supermarket shelves.
"We require the large bottles to be sold in bottleshops."
Woolworths store manager, Ivan Williams, told the Alice News that that any promotion done by Mac's Liquor in Alice is common to the whole of South Australia.
"From Broken Hill to Metro Adelaide, the Riverland and Alice Springs, the promotions are the same.
"There are no promotions specific to Alice Springs."
Mr Williams said the ports were not in a prominent position in the store, but were on the shelves where the now banned five litre casks of wine used to be.
Manager of Liquorland in the Coles complex referred the News to Liquorland's Adelaide headquarters for comment. At the time of going to press, the Adelaide office had not responded to our request.
Meanwhile, police in Alice have not experienced any decrease in protective custody apprehensions since the introduction of the liquor trial.
There were around 1000 apprehensions for the month of April, Acting Commander Tom Svikart told the Alice News.
"That's up by about 50 per cent on March [figures for April last year were not yet available].
"It's important to say though that this new regime has only been in place for one month, and we need at least a three month period to get a clear idea.
"It was also a month when a lot of people from communities were in town."
The Lightning Football Carnival, held on April 13 and 14, drew 3000 to 5000 visitors, according to the ERG.
Despite the high numbers of drunks, Cmmdr Svikart said police were not receiving an elevated level of complaints about anti-social behaviour.
He said this might be because of more proactive policing and because drinking is happening later in the day.
The ERG also reported less anti-social behaviour during business hours in the town centre as a positive result of the trial, as was the perception that families were "being less harassed for money to buy alcohol".
On the negative side, apart from the increased consumption of fortified wines and spirits, was an increase in broken glass; an increase in violent behaviour; and, alcohol consumption continuing later into the night.
The ERG will be formally reporting to the Licensing Commission and Minister Syd Stirling at the end of June. This report will include police and hospital statistics.
The News asked Dr Crundall whether adjustments to restrictions would be made if the trial continues to show high consumption of fortified wines and spirits.
That would be up to the Licensing Commission, he said.
"It is certainly within their jurisdiction to vary the regime," said Dr Crundall.
"No one would want to see the situation deteriorate."

A government drive to stimulate horticulture industries in Alice Springs is raising questions about its commitment to replacing the controversial sewerage treatment ponds with a state of the art facility.
While reserves in the currently used Mereenie and Roe Creek basins are dwindling, much of the town's eight billion litres of sewage a year is disposed of by evaporation, with no commitment to a drinking water quality recycling scheme.
PAWA is advertising nation wide for agricultural users of treated effluent, but it seems clear this will come from the existing evaporation ponds system.
Darryl Day, general manager of PAWA's water services, says there are no plans for a recycling plant capable of producing water fit for the town's reticulation system.
"We will continue to review the best technology and over time there will be changes," he says.
Plans for use of irrigation water are driven by agricultural demand ­ yet to be established ­ while the remainder of the water conservation management relies on reducing demand.
This has been successful to a point, with average residential use dropping from 539,000 litres in 1998/99 to 432,000 litres in 2000/01 per property.
However, this strategy leaves little room for the town ­ whose population has been static for several years ­ to grow in the future.
For years there have been complaints about the foul smelling sewerage ponds and surrounding swamps, wasting hundreds of hectares of prime real estate, and breeding disease-carrying mosquitos.
The government has plans for a new bore field, at Rocky Hill, about 30 km south east of the town, for more than $40m ­ a cost, according to some sources, similar to that of a recycling plant.
Mr Day says he cannot readily quote the cost of an appropriate water purification plant.
He could not give an estimate of how much longer the bore fields in use now will last, but says it will be at least for the "current generation".
The government is touting opportunities for citrus and grape growing in the Alice area such as has been developed highly successfully in Ti Tree.
But that region has cheap land and is north of the frost line.
Mark Skinner, Power and Water's regional coordinator for water services, says which way PAWA will jump with its water supply options "is very dependent upon what these expressions of interest turn up in the next month."
It is not clear what the government will do if this campaign fails or is only partially successful.
Mr Skinner says: "If people want to use only half of the water, then what do we do with the other half?"
Asked whether in the driest part of the world's driest continent, one answer is recycling, Mr Skinners says PAWA is looking at that.
He says there are several underground basins available where recycled water could be stored before being pumped back into the town, and one under the Old Timers was "identified because it's the closest to the ponds".
A key question is to what degree the effluent should be purified ­ to drinking water quality or just for irrigation use ­ a consideration affecting the complexity and the cost of recycling.
At this point the government is looking only at the cheaper option, staying with the ponds and discarding the option of a state of the art purification plant.
This would rule out the production of drinking water, and limit the use of the treated effluent to irrigation of sporting fields, parks and orchards.
Mr Day could not say what percentage of the total water demand this would represent, but conceded it was a minor portion of the nine billion litres of water used in The Alice annually.
In any case, most sporting fields and parks are currently watered from town bores.
These play an important role in keeping down the water table, which has risen significantly with the urban spread of Alice Springs, leading to, among other problems, death of the gum trees in the Todd.
Mr Skinner says part of the reason for the "non potable scheme around the town was in fact to keep that town basin down, limiting the need for additional water from the sewage ponds".
The town basin "fills and empties very quickly.
"Three to four years ago, before we had these last rains, a number of those bores were in danger of going dry."
At the moment "we're at the stage where the water table is getting too high: "It brings a lot of salt to the surface which doesn't do any good."
Mr Skinner says the present sewage ponds system works.
"It is designed to overflow into that swamp.
"That's why the ponds were chosen to be there."
He says similar systems are in use elsewhere in Australia: treated effluent flows from settlement ponds into reed swamps and is channelled into waterways "if there's a river nearby", or it is left to "soak into the ground water".
In Alice water coming out of the ponds, "after it has gone through these reed beds, is very good quality water.
"We've proven it's better than the swimming holes people swim in.
"The problems with those reeds is they harbour mosquitoes.
"If it wasn't for those mosquitoes we'd be saying we'll just fence that off, and those reeds are doing a nice job, thank you very much."
Meanwhile Mr Skinner says a long time leak, discovered recently, in the Ilparpa water main, has probably wasted 160 million litres.
Mr Skinner says while water pressure in the Ilpapra area has now greatly increased since the broken water main has been fixed, PAWA remains committed to constructing the Ilparpa water pumping station.
"Since the mid-1990s, Power and Water has been closely monitoring water pressure in that area.
"Over this time the minimum water pressure in summer has been steadily decreasing.
"Given this data, and the fact that several developments in the Farms and Emily Hills areas are fed from the Ilparpa water main, a decision was made to build the pumping station.
"This will ensure that water pressure is maintained during the summer months and for further developments in the area over the next 20 to 30 years."
Mr Skinner says PAWA is currently in the process of improving its monitoring capability of water flows and pressure in the Alice Springs system.
"This monitoring system, combined with the data collected from customer meters, will enable Power and Water staff to more clearly identify which parts of town might be affected by water leakage, slow meters or water theft."
He says a leak in a water pipe at Roe Creek bore field was discovered during a recent fire.
"One of the fire fighters containing the fire reported the leak and it was repaired immediately," Mr Skinner said.
"The hole in the pipe was approximately the diameter of a biro and we are unable to determine how long the leak was there."

COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: Waxing, waning and weaning of Alice moons.

How long does it take to wean oneself off the Alice? Friends who have relocated still talk passionately about the Centre, "when we" days and carefree nights.
David and I made the most of our Sydney interlude Ewe negotiated trains and buses, enjoyed sights and spectacles, Elton John in concert, those harbour lights which Boz Scaggs made famous some years ago, dined with friends and generally soaked up the city atmosphere.
Whenever we're away we always extol the virtues of living in a town like Alice.
One young lady told us that she thought she would travel the world first and leave Australian touring until later in life. Someone else added: "Why do we need to travel anywhere else in Oz when we have everything here in Sydney?"
Which is possibly why every Indonesian person, especially those in Bali, thinks that everyone from Australia lives in Seeeddneee.
And, obviously, millions of people do!
David and I kept getting caught up in the runaway swell of people all trying to board the same train, coach, jet-cat or ferry that we were trying to get on.
It's exciting and invigorating for a few days!
There's a resurgence of the move to try and attract city dwellers "back to the bush" where they'll benefit from the dollar's greater buying power and enjoy a better quality of life at a less hasty pace.
How can we attract people into the desert?
A few weeks ago David and I partied with others, at Carolyn and Neville's house, welcoming Caroline, a mutual friend who moved from the Alice to Brisbane about four years ago.
It was Good Friday and as promised, a full moon rose. I thought about one of Elizabeth Jolley's earlier novels, My Father's Moon, as we toasted family and friends afar.
Samantha's Mummy, Estelle, a good friend of Caroline's arranged a surprise visit from Townsville. Her early years of married life were spent living on cattle stations around Western Australia and the Top End. It was refreshing to hear how much she was enjoying revisiting the Centre and to listen to her impressions after a longish absence, reconfirming also that issues vary little no matter where we live: anti-social behaviour, crime, drugs, alcohol and substance abuse and local happenings in general.
Trudy, Bill and children are pleased to be back in the Centre after a two-year sojourn overseas. Cheryl, David and sons arrived back after living for two years in Far North Queensland: the change and challenge were great, but they were happy when an opportunity presented itself for David to re-transfer to the Alice.
Leonie and Wayne returned recently after a year or so interstate ­ they've also found it easy to slip back into life in the Alice.
A couple of weeks ago David and I had dinner with Mel and Bette, visiting from Adelaide, and just a few weeks away from celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
They were reminiscing about the Alice that they knew 49 years ago, when they lived in a large older style home in the Old Eastside, before sealed roads, sewerage systems, air conditioners and supermarkets.
They had last touched the Centre 20 years ago, and couldn't believe how Alice Springs had grown. They were looking forward to spending a couple of days here and renewing old acquaintances (unfortunately some, like Reg and Marge, were interstate).
Marlene and Andy are extremely pleased to be back after a two month break down south. As Andy said, "There's no place like home E
Friend Caroline said that the highlight of her trip (apart from seeing all of us!) was horse riding along the Todd with fellow equestrians. She'd forgotten how special Alice is: our moon, so much bigger and brighter than the one which hangs around other parts, the impact of our magnificent countryside with its dramatic landscape, the light, colours, textures and enormous skies,
"It would be so easy to return," she mused. "It's a good thing I'm happily settled in Queensland E

COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: Does global warming offer Alice an opportunity?

Alice Springs just experienced its hottest April on record.
Get used to it, because global warming is predicted to increase central Australia's temperatures by up to six degrees in the next 70 years. Can you imagine 47 degree days in January?
It is the result of spiraling global energy dependence that has seen the extraction and burning of 300 million years of stored carbon (oil, coal and gas) and its release into the atmosphere as a "greenhouse gas blanket" in only 300 years.
The juggernaut is a massive one ­ the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent immediately if global temperatures are to stabilize (at a higher level) in 100 years time. Meanwhile ourselves and our kids in Alice Springs will witness more summer floods, more buffel grass, less winter rains, more fires, less native plants and animals, more diseases from mossies and a host of other financial and social implications.
Imagine living on a South Pacific island that will vanish under the sea by the time we are old.
Australia's political and industrial response to combat global warming has been shameful. Despite Australia having the highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world, the federal government bailed out of the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year following George Bush's unilateral American lead, leaving European Union countries, Canada, Japan and other nations to continue without us.
Instead Australia is going to rely on "voluntary industry programs" to achieve our stated target of an eight per cent increase in emissions by 2010 (compared to 10 per cent decrease targets of other nations).
It is clear, however, that industry is not innovative enough or willing enough to push hard. A leaked government report last week showed Australia is heading towards a 30 per cent increase in emissions by 2010, a shameful outcome for the only nation on earth that has a dedicated (Australian) Greenhouse Office.
What about in the Northern Territory? We have the dubious distinction of being the highest per capita emitters in Australia, therefore giving us the title of world's worst greenhouse polluters per person. This figure is significantly influenced by our low population and the high use of diesel at Nabalco's Groote Eylandt mine.
Elsewhere, the use of natural gas in larger NT towns is better than coal-dependent towns in Victoria, but the possible on-shore development of Timor Sea gas will once again skew our greenhouse emissions massively. It is critical that the NT Greenhouse Unit (recently established by the Territory Government) sets stringent emission levels for all new heavy industries that are established by Timor gas. This will undoubtedly be in the face of strong industry threats to set up elsewhere if they aren't given free reign to minimize costs at the expense of global warming and the Territory's environment.
In Central Australia we have the opportunity to create a thriving economy from the global greenhouse catastrophe by focusing on one of our most substantial assets ­ the Sun.
We have some of the highest sunlight hours, cloud-free days and solar intensity in the world and these can be captured to develop a thriving Solar City of Alice Springs within a wider Central Australian Solar Region.
Much of the town's future energy needs can be met by installing large solar electricity concentrating dishes and rooftop photovoltaic panels (both of which are already commercially available), in conjunction with a vigorous energy efficiency program to reduce our energy needs.
Such solar energy systems are already being installed by PAWA in Aboriginal communities around Alice Springs. Major spin-offs will then arise including solar-based manufacturing (probably not high tech solar panels, but support infrastructure such as switchboards), renewable energy conferences, research and development programs (CAT recently commenced such a program for renewables in remote communities, called "Bushlight") and development of specialist solar installation businesses such as Ecoenergy and Suntec.
The niche market will be in making solar energy systems work in remote locations and then promoting ourselves as a demonstration site for others to learn from, a product that is not yet offered anywhere in the world. This vision was presented to Desert Knowledge Australia last year by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC), Brendan Meney Architects and CATIA and has now been developed to the point where funding is being sought by Desert Knowledge to conduct a feasibility study of the Solar Region concept.
ALEC is confident that it can be made a reality, and Alice Springs can become a world example of how to combat global warming through community vision and action.


In the post-war years life was simple. There was a shortage of materials, people were industrious. Malvern Star bikes were available and the better off kids had one. For many in the suburbs and the bush however the only way to have a bike was to build your own.
In the Œfifties and Œsixties kids would scavenge in the local dumps for old bike parts. Often among the claimed treasures was a buckled rim that needed to be re-aligned, a chain requiring lubrication, or handlebars that were ready for modification. In the end the local lads had the essentials for a "new" treddly!
The finished product was snazzy! A small front wheel and a regular size at the back, or vice versa; handle bars of grotesque proportions resembling those of motor bikes of the era; and a paint job with enamel from the back of dad's shed, which gave the machine a character of its own.
Those were the good old days, when kids raced their homemade speedsters on paddock tracks imagining they were speedway heroes.
Gone is the freedom to search the dump for treasures, but throughout Alice Springs the baby boomers have not forgotten the thrill of reconstituted metal made for gladiatorial feats on the dirt.
Arunga Park is our outback colosseum, and it is here that boys with their toys gather to race to the death (of the vehicle), after months of rebuilding their stock cars from scratch.
At present in sanctuaries of steel, which are surrounded by museums of spare parts, petrolheads, who ply their mechanical trade for the fun of it, are spending countless hours at the art they developed as schoolboys. They're now moulding machines of over six litres, to fit over the chassis of a Ford, Holden or whatever, ready for the distinctive enamel paint job that will have their street stock looking the ants pants at Arunga Park.
There is good reason for the grease monkeys to be hard at it this week, for on this weekend the Australian Street Stock titles are to be run and won on our track on the North Stuart Highway.
The titles were scheduled for Darwin, but with tropical Territorians unable to host the event, the entrepreneurs from Alice took over and have attracted the best street stock racers in the nation.
The Todd Tavern and Ross Engineering are sponsoring the festival of fumes, with practice sessions scheduled for tomorrow.
A Calcutta, and the chance to buy a driver, will allow supporters get into the act tomorrow night, and racing will get under way over Friday and Saturday nights.
In all 53 drivers have nominated for a tilt at the National Title. Australian No.1 driver Barry Edwards will be here to defend his crown. Mick Dann, who has the runner-up position, will be striving to go one place better. The top operator from South Australia Mark Lincoln will keep them honest, and the NT's Kevin Quinlan from Darwin should be prominent.
On the local scene our Alice Springs champion, Peter Harris, who recently claimed the title from Quinlan, with Colin Hyde third, will be a crowd favourite.
Meanwhile in the sheds around town the job is still far from over! Tony White is hard at it repairing his ED Falcon after taking on the wall in the Alice titles.
Prior to that event, Dale Reid rolled his XF Falcon five times in practice and so has been burning the candle at both ends to be able to re-appear in his "new" XF.
Grant Harris has replaced the panels on his EA Falcon and given the machine a new paint job, while on Ghan Road Max Owen has made full use of the treasures in his wrecking yard.
Max has been hard at it rebuilding car 77, which is piloted by his wife Lucinda. After two laps of the Alice titles she hit the wall and the Ford came off second best. The shattered vehicle rode the bump and held itself together until lap 21 when the front end eventually just fell apart.
Lucinda will not be the only female on the track at the weekend. She'll have Carmen Harris in car 17 for company. Both ladies will be driving XF Falcons, and will keep the blokes honest.


On Sunday Federal ran on against an arch rival, Rovers. The Blues started as favourites, and had some old favourites grace the field.
At full forward, resplendent in new boots, was Nathan McGregor. He did the old side proud by spearing two goals through the centre, but would regret the several he missed from point blank range.
Also returning was Robbie Cameron, a veteran of the halcyon days of Rovers, who obviously enjoyed the occasion but may not be looking to another 100 games with the club.
For Feds Daniel Palmer made a return and strengthened the forward pack. More importantly on the boundary Michael Graham put on the coach's blazer. Graham who had a distinguished career with Sturt and South Australia, then in Darwin, has the knowledge needed to breed success.
In the first term both teams put in well, with Feds able to establish a two-point lead at the break.
In the second quarter however it was Sherman Spencer's turn to put Souths on the map. He dominated in the forward line, booting three goals and setting it up for the Blues to score five goals to one for the term and establishing a 22 point lead.
A low point of the quarter was when Carl Hampton and Craig Turner were jointly given a 10-minute yellow card, taking two real contributors out of the game.
Come the premiership term, the Blues took full control. They plonked another six goals through the middle and scored only one miss to set the win up. In reply Federal only scored two goals one. Carlson Brown was instrumental in the Rover attack by scoring three of the goals for the quarter.
In the run home Rovers put on another four goals to two, with the goal sneak McGregor showing glimpses of his true potential. Alas he missed two point blank opportunities, but then resurrected himself to score a pearler from 50 metres, which would have had the good folk of hometown Freeling in South Australia reclaiming him as a legend.
The day finished well for Rovers with a 17.8 (110) to 7.10 (52) win. Brett Wright played superbly for the Blues. Sherman Spencer provided the half forward drive; Damon Prenzler was prominent; and Jamie Tidy and Brendan Smith were again doing the hard work.
For Feds the honours went to Darren Young. This lad has a tonne of potential and could be considered for the big time. Craig Turner played a true big man's game, and captain Darryl Ryder provided inspiration.
In the late game the standard lifted many notches and from the first bounce the game was on.
Trevor Dhu who has already broken all the goal-kicking records, immediately established ascendancy in the forward lines with two goals to give the Eagles a lead.
South at the critical time were hit hard when Alby Tilmouth was taken from the field on a stretcher. This possibly put South off their game for a while as Robert Taylor, Dhu and Graham Smith banged home further goals.
Gilbert Fishook kept the Roos in the game with a goal and followed with another late in the quarter.
By half time it appeared that Pioneer had the game sewn up. However South came out blazing in the third quarter and made the Eagles feel a little like budgerigars. In the forward line Herman Sampson hit his straps; Fishook continued to fire; and Malcolm Ross exerted his influence. Mid-way through the quarter it was evident that the Roos meant business and they duly forged to a 14-point lead before the three-quarter time siren.
Coach Roy Arbon must have mixed a secret potion with his words to the Eagles, because after the break they came out in full flight. Dhu set the scene with an early goal.
Darren Talbot replied with a six pointer for the Roos, and then Adam Taylor hit the post for Pioneer. On the kick out Robert Taylor took advantage of the situation, collected the ball and goaled.
Meanwhile South trump card Adrian McAdam, who had already played soccer, reeled from cramp. Another goal from Dhu put the Eagles in front and from there they lifted. Graeme Smith drove the ball out of the centre to see Norm Hagan, then Dhu and finally Smith himself drive the last nails into the South coffin.
Pioneer won 19.12 (126) to 17.7 (109) in a great game early in the season.
This weekend Rovers face West in the late game, and Federal play Pioneer in the heart starter.


The annual Craft Acquisition, opened last Friday, has added nine works to Territory Craft's permanent collection, among them three by Territorians.
Acquisitions adviser Grace Cochrane, curator of Decorative Arts and Design at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, was looking for "good ideas, good designs, and good resolution through the skills people bring to them".
She also took into account the needs of the collection, and of course, the constraints of the acquisitions budget.
This was around $4000, some three-quarters of which was raised from local sponsors, with the remainder coming from Arts NT.
The acquisitions cover a range of crafts, with ceramics and jewellery well represented.
Two of the three ceramic acquisitions are quietly elegant pieces, one a vase by a "senior and well respected" ceramic artist from Canberra, Janet Deboos, the other a tea set by Kaye Pemberton, a past resident of Alice Springs, now also in Canberra.
It was not surprising to learn that Pemberton has studied under Deboos, who teaches at the Canberra School of Art.
Their pieces are distinctive but share an interest in function ­ "the process of making pots and the rituals of using them" ­ and in multiples of a form, and both show a command of technical excellence.
"For a long time people were interested in turning craft into art, making sculptural forms, now there's a strong interest from a number of people working in ceramics to actually start dealing with function again," said Ms Cochrane.
Of Deboos, she said: "She has a status because she is good at what she does, she exhibits well and widely, she's influential. The work is very good, she knows exactly what she's doing.
"It's a good work to have in the collection because of what she represents and because of what that work represents."
She described Pemberton's set as "beautifully formed, very generous, very well thrown", remarking on the interest of the murini clay insets.
The third ceramic acquisition, a jug by Victorian Fiona Hiscock, is different in character, making a bigger, more decorative statement, but is also interested in function. The jug and a related bowl, are forms that normally you would see in tea set size. Instead, Hiscock has enlarged it.
"She's exploring the rituals of daily life, the forms we use for eating and drinking but in oversize versions," said Ms Cochrane.
The jewellery acquisitions share an environmental orientation. Alice jeweller Willem de Gunst used Harts Range-sourced kyanite with sterling silver to make his bracelet, which Ms Cochrane chose for its "strong, simple setting".
Kath Inglis from South Australia worked with PVC in her set of three "Skin Deep" bangles: "They're an example of a direction that a number of jewellers have had for some time, working with alternative materials. She's dealing with it really well, carving the PVC to create a surface of little spokes, using colour in different proportions with each bangle.
"It's provocative."
Victorian jeweller and metal smith Leah Teschendorff's interest goes beyond materials. Her set of three tiny boxes is titled "Environmental Weeds Series I".
"She's talking about the human impact on the environment. On each box she's engraved words like Œcolonisation' and imprints of introduced weeds. In one that is open, there's a tangle of something like blackberry.
"They're exquisitely made, with a political or environmental message."
Darwin-based Thomas Dinning also demonstrates an interest in the environment with his jewellery boxes, the smaller one of which was acquired. It uses eucalypt species from around Australia, emphasising their natural colours and textures: "Very nicely made, nicely finished, good design, it works really well."
Although Ms Cochrane noted the strength in the Territory of textile crafts, the textile she recommended for acquisition is by a Queenslander, Kay Faulkner.
It would appear to be responding to The Centre though, in its orange and rust colours and title, "Tracking the Centre I".
It is technically impressive, achieving a complex double weave in wool and acrylic on the loom, combined with an intricate shibori dying process so that some squares in the chequered design display diagonal stripes.
Although not recommending them for acquisition, Ms Cochrane also expressed interest in the textile explorations in two pieces by Alice craftswoman Philomena Hali, involving shibori as well as heat setting of dyes, stitching and pleating.
A "bush toy"­ stockman and bullock ­ by Justin Hayes from Keringke Arts was acquired.
"I've seen this work for some time in photographs. This piece is using recycled materials not wire, it's very lively, very well made, original to this area and appropriate to the collection," said Ms Cochrane. She commented that many craftspeople in the Territory are dealing with their environment, whether through their choice of materials and colours, or in their reflection of particular places and themes.
It is something she has also noticed in Western Australia, where there are a number of people working in ceramics and textiles responding to "the space of their environment".


Telecross is a community service, launched in June of last year by the Australian Red Cross in the NT and Telstra Country Wide, to help the frail aged and other people who live alone and are at risk.
Every morning staff from Telstra's Darwin Arafura Call Centre come in early and in their own time call Telecross customers to check on their well being.
The service also operates in Alice Springs.
Telecross program manager for Red Cross NT, Janine LeCornu, says the service provides wonderful comfort to those involved and peace of mind to their families and friends.
The service operates each day and calls are made between 7.30am and 9.00am.
Telstra Country Wide area general manager, Danny Honan, says the program gives Telstra staff a chance to give something back to the community.
"We were amazed at the interest the staff took in being involved with this project.
"Each call only takes a few minutes but makes such a big difference to these people's lives," he said.
All calls are completely anonymous and free to those who register with the Red Cross.
To register for the Telecross contact 8924 3920 Darwin or Alice Springs on 8952 6762.


NT Government plans for a $10m Desert Peoples Centre (DPC) south of The Gap have been thrown into disarray by the decision of the Institute for Aboriginal Development to spend a federal grant of $2.6m on redeveloping its South Terrace site.
IAD is proposed to be one of three Aboriginal organisations to be accommodated in the DPC, along with Batchelor College and the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) ­ all focussed on education.
Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says he hopes IAD will still take part in the DPC but concedes that he's unaware of any signs of collaboration between IAD and the other two.
IAD itself has just emerged from a period of bitter infighting and there are grave doubts about its future viability.
Neither chairman Graham Smith nor director Eileen Shaw ­ both recently appointed ­ responded to requests for comment.
Dr Toyne says NT Education Minister Syd Stirling ­ under the banner of "self determination" ­ is in the process of clearing the use of the site, which means IAD is free to spend a $2.6m grant from the Australian National Training Authority.
The blocking of the grant's use has been a controversial issue for some years.
The NT government ­ although not a financial contributor ­ needs to approve the use of the land in South Terrace.
The former CLP government withheld consent for some time because it wanted IAD to share the Centralian College campus, but the ambitious DPC plan, backed by the new Labor government, is principally for Aboriginal groups.
IAD's clear refusal to play ball ­ at least for the moment ­ will make it difficult to incorporate in the DPC the economies of scale and opportunities for collaboration envisaged as the key of a Desert Knowledge precinct, a cornerstone of Labor's election campaign in The Centre last year.
It is understood that IAD had plans drawn up by Tangentyere Design for the new campus in South Terrace, and is now calling tenders for the construction.
However, there are no arrangements in place for the new facility's role in the DPC.
Says Dr Toyne: "We're continuing to encourage them to take part in the planning and the development of the Desert Peoples Centre.
"They have agreed to take part in the planning meetings.
"We're aware that there have been some major divisions in IAD in recent history but we're very confident about the current board and the director.
"Given enough time they will be able to regroup around a strong strategic plan.
"The only concern we've ever expressed is that they need to ensure that they are viable both financially and as an organisation.
"We've offered to help work through that but you can't put away the fact that there are still issues that have arisen out of the conflicts such as unfair dismissal cases."
Dr Toyne says he was a keen supporter of the "long running battle" of IAD with the former government to maintain their independence.
He says he acknowledges that the issue now is the collaboration of the three Aboriginal organisations "but the point is that the terms of that collaboration have got to be worked out with the devil potentially in the detail.
"I've certainly indicated, as has Syd Stirling, that we'd be very keen to see a strategic plan [of] what could potentially be done as part of the DPC so we all can see what they're aiming at."
Is designing a new building before a strategic plan is in place putting the cart before the horse?
Says Dr Toyne: "No, the cart and the horse have been around for many years. You don't trample all over that sort of tradition.
"The good things IAD have done for many years can still be partially delivered from the current campus even if they take a strong role in the DPC.
"In order to ride the increased government commitment down here to higher education and research, and their commercial side under Desert Knowledge, they would be very wise if they took up some participation in that project."
Territory Senator Nigel Scullion says he is "a little disappointed" in the IAD decision.
"Good leadership is about looking to the future and putting in place
policies and strategies to achieve benefits for the community and for your
constituents," he says.
"The synergies that could be generated with the co-location would create real benefits to all Australians and to Central Australian Aboriginal people in particular.
"I urge IAD to reconsider their involvement with the Desert Peoples Centre and help develop a cooperative direction forward in Aboriginal development," says Senator Scullion.


As Alice Springs tries to come to terms with a landscape dominated by buffel grass and the resulting fire threat, some pastoralists are still sowing the introduced species.
Donald Holt, at Delmore Downs north-east of Alice Springs, is one and says that, after 40 years of sowing, the grass is staying in the areas where he wants it.
Mr Holt says buffel only grows on seven of the 36 land systems on Delmore.
"It grows in drainage depressions and floodout country and they make up only a small percentage of the Centre's land systems," he says.
Ecologist Peter Latz agrees that buffel likes the best alluvial soils, but says that is the very problem: "These are the areas of the richest bio-diversity, the most important parts of the landscape, not only for pastoralists, but for native plants and animals.
"Native animals fatten and breed on these parts, as do cattle. They can live on the rest but they can't fatten and breed.
"The problem for native grasses when they are competing with buffel is that they are more palatable.
"Cattle and the native animals will choose the sweet native grasses over buffel, and they eat them out, seed and all.
"Then, in the good county, there'll only be buffel."
Mr Holt is a third generation pastoralist. He was only a boy when buffel was planted at Delmore in 1961 by the then Department of Agriculture, as a dust control measure.
"Initially, we were very concerned," says Mr Holt.
"My parents had seen it spread quickly on Delney and Alcoota [neighbouring leases] in floodout country.
"My mother, who grew a vegie garden the size of a tennis court, was particularly worried about it."
Mr Holt says government surveys show his property has over 50 species of native grasses. The diversity is monitored regularly and is increasing, he says.
SOWN 1961
There are still a wide variety of native species in the very paddock where the original buffel was sown in 1961.
He says the buffel will only grow 200 to 300 metres off the river; then it stops.
"We don't want a mono-culture on Delmore Downs, no way. But we like to have the buffel to see us through dry times.
"In the 1960s the Department of Agriculture tried very hard to get buffel grass to grow in unproductive spinifex country, which covers a big percentage of Central Australia, with very little success."
Botanist Dave Albrecht says that the future spread of buffel is an unknown quantity: "It is such a variable species, not only in its form but in its genetic make-up. It is possible that buffel could adapt to cope with less fertile conditions."
Mr Albrecht says buffel is now growing thickly along the roads through the West MacDonnells National Park. It is also starting to crop up in sandy country. For example, in the Finke bio-region it can be found growing under desert oaks.
On his 2700 square kilometres of land, 95 per cent of which is grazing country, Mr Holt estimates only about 300 sq km have buffel growing thickly. He intends to plant more in certain areas.
Mr Holt has bad memories of the drought years of the Œsixties when hundreds of kangaroos were dropping dead around the homestead and the station bores.
In the dry years of the Œnineties ­ 1994, 1996 and 1999, in each of which they had less than 70 ml of rain ­ not a single Œroo died. They survived on the buffel.
"'Roos have a greater need of green grass than cattle do, Œroos die before cattle in a drought.
"As soon as mulga grass dries up, Œroos die on it.
"It only takes 10 ml of rain for buffel to green up.
"The only native grass that responds like that is Mitchell grass. We've got some, we'd love more of it, but it only likes black soil country.
"We love all our native grasses, but we have a shortage of hardy perennials."
While Mr Holt is very concerned about fire ­ he and his neighbours have fought about 12 fires since last July, some burning on 50 kilometre fronts ­ he does not associate an increased risk with buffel. Indeed, he says he has even seen buffel slow up a fire burning off spinifex country.
Mr Latz, who has spoken in these pages before about the fire threat to Central Australia (see Alice News, Feb 6), agrees that buffel doesn't burn as fiercely as spinifex, but says buffel is incontestably increasing the fuel load: "If you've got twice as much grass, you'll have twice as much impact from fires."
Mr Holt says buffel also does a cheap, efficient job in improving eroded country.
Early pastoralists ran sheep in the district, tailing them out during the day and yarding them at night.
That kind of shepherding is "tough on country" says Mr Holt, yet even those areas are improving with the help of buffel and careful stocking regimes.
Mr Holt says he feels sorry for people trying to grow a garden amongst buffel grass but says the alternative of shovelling wheelbarrow loads of dust out of the house every day isn't much fun either.
He remembers the dust storms that covered the Centre in the late Œfifties and early Œsixties: "You had to get into the shower so you could breathe dust free air for a change."
"On the negative side it is unfortunate that buffel replaces native grasses on high phosphorous soils in a small number of land systems, but on the positive side millions of tons of precious top soil are saved from wind and water erosion by buffel grass," says Mr Holt.
Yes, says Mr Latz, buffel does a cheap job rehabilitating country, but "there's no such thing as a free lunch".
He points to Brigalow (a type of mulga) country in Queensland, which was cleared and planted with buffel.
Now, the buffel has exhausted the phosphorous in the soil, and pastoralists are having to use super-phosphate in order to maintain the introduced grass.
"I don't dispute that buffel has a distinct short-term advantage. When it is first sewn pastoralists get the wrong impression. For a while they are living with the best of both worlds but that can't last.
"Short-term gain, long-term pain."

COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: East - West connections.

One of the great things about living in the Centre, apart from our superb countryside and weather, is that most people dream of visiting the Red Heart, and with friends here, they have no excuse not to: the fascination of the interior lives on.
We always have a constant stream of visitors, which is super, as is the quiet when they all head home.
We escorted David's grandchildren, Rebecca (9) and Ben (6) to Sydney on Friday. The last time they visited from Mudgee, the weatherman frowned ­ it rained for a week (great for the pastoralists).
That was July 2001 ­ a different age, especially politically ­ we stood on the railway platform with hundreds of others, trying to ignore the drizzling rain as the momentum gathered, protesters tried to drown out politicians and ex SA Premier John Olsen, ex Chief Minister for the NT, Denis Burke, Franco Moretti, CEO, Asia Pacific Transport Company joined PM John Howard to turn, together, the first sod in the construction of our Alice Springs ­ Darwin railway link.
There was much excitement.
Rebecca and Ben were also here in June 1999 when the Alice News ran the road-rail article which propounded Alice Springs as a transport hub: the idea was to tie the extension of the south/north rail line to the construction of a much needed east/west road system.
Countless tunes have been written about roads ­ taking the high one or the low one, the one less travelled, Bob Dylan wondered how many a man had to walk down (in this politically sensitive age, change "man" to "person"), Rodriguez sang "all the roads they lead to Mexico", others prefer Rome, while we who live here know that all roads, tracks, trails and rails lead to, and pass through, the Alice.
The Outback Highway, if it ever gets off the drawing board, would certainly add a new dimension to travelling around Australia: 1700 kilometres of all weather transcontinental road linking into the great Eastern Highway at Laverton and Warburton in Western Australia, through to Uluru, along Lasseter's Highway into the Outback Capital, Alice Springs, and crossing into Queensland via the Plenty Highway to the Donahue and on to Winton.
Media releases, which were fast and furious, are now almost non-existent.
The project has been discussed for so many years and at so many different government levels. Working parties were set up to progress planning in 1996; calls were made for Federal funding to ensure the completion of our Outback Highway prior to the nation's Centenary of Federation celebrations. Whoops! Missed that deadline!
Headlines ranged from, as per the Outback Highway government media website, in November 1998 "Vision Endorsed in Canberra" and "East/West Highway on the Edge of Reality" to, in mid January 1999, "Federal Funding of $317M for NE Goldfields to Winton Highway Under Consideration by Commonwealth Transport Ministers" and only a week later, "Highway Going Nowhere".
In March 2000 there was again a big push from the regions to have voices heard in Canberra and although the Outback Highway project received support, in May 2000, it was overlooked in the budget.
Today, all regional development forums still have the Outback Highway listed as a top priority.
Elsewhere it's obviously not a matter of great importance.
May 1 and visitors are in raptures over our glorious weather and our Centralian hospitality ­ long range forecasters predict that there'll be sunshine about for our May Day weekend, Bangtail Musters, parades and right on track for the Racing Carnival.
We've still got a few months to capitalise on the Year of the Outback status, so if it's too much to ask for funding for an international airport in the Alice, maybe it's time to revisit and reintroduce proposals for the Outback Highway.
It hasn't had an airing for almost two years, and it warrants one: It makes perfect sense ­ south / north / east / west, road and rail (and air traffic) passing through the transport mecca, Alice Springs, the Capital of the Outback.

COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: New world-class desert suburbs?

The suburb of Larapinta will expand westwards again this year, first by 30 blocks and ultimately by 260 blocks. Mt Johns Valley along Stephens Road is also scheduled for development.
Will Alice Springs receive two more "Melbourne look-a-like" subdivisions, or will we get world-class desert suburbs in tune with our arid surroundings?
The opportunity is there to do it well. Indeed, business-as-usual suburbs will make a mockery of the "Desert Knowledge" label that the NT government and others are promoting, and will fail to deliver Labor's policy to "encourage the development of energy efficient design in housing to reduce material, heating and cooling cost".
If done well, the two subdivisions could have streets that slow traffic and are resident-friendly, blocks that allow houses to be oriented correctly for the sun, native vegetation corridors that encourage wildlife whilst providing pleasant walking access to shops and schools, effluent reuse to minimize fresh water use, stormwater harvesting to soak-in precious rainwater, houses that are water and energy efficient through good insulation, shading, arid zone gardens and a myriad of other integrated features.
Developers have done this elsewhere at a competitive cost and have attracted premium prices for their sought-after blocks. Also innovative developments create further business.
Sadly, current development procedures and regulations mean this outcome is highly unlikely. The NT lags well behind all other states and the Alice Springs Land Use Plan does not include any requirements for arid zone design. Industry players such as developers, builders, hardware suppliers and real estate agents have shown little inclination to lead from the front. Brendan Meney and the new Centre for Remote Health building are a welcome exception to this.
Recent developments such as Cawood Court, Head Street and the Convention Centre have failed to optimize these aspects. Implicit in this is consumers' ignorance (and apathy) towards good design.
How can this situation be addressed for Larapinta and Mt Johns Valley? Firstly, the NT government has to back-up its Desert Knowledge rhetoric with real actions. Criteria for developers must include a strong emphasis on achieving desert-appropriate subdivisions. Developers who fail to address this must not be short-listed. However, the government cannot rely solely on "the market" to provide an optimal outcome, particularly because local developers have limited experience with arid-focused subdivisions. PAWA and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Environment need to offer their considerable expertise to assist the planning and costing of various options by developers, such as extraction and treatment of sewage within the subdivision for irrigation reuse (sewer mining) instead of upgrading the Gap sewer to cope with extra loads.
Government should consider innovative financial incentives if developers can demonstrate long-term savings to government by smart designs. An example is energy efficient streetlights that cost more up-front but provide large electricity savings over time.
Minimum requirements should be placed on house designs to reduce energy and water use.
A mandatory Housing Energy Rating Scheme already exists in other states and is readily transferable to Alice Springs. Government can provide clever financial incentives to home-builders who incur higher upfront costs, knowing it will recoup its investment through means such as deferral of a power station upgrade due to energy savings.
Ultimately, homebuyers need to demand best-practice blocks. Government and the building industry need to support energy efficient display homes and a Building & Energy Advisory Service in Alice Springs, as well as researching and developing appropriate hardware.
Relevant aspects need to be enshrined in the NT Planning Scheme that is currently under review, to ensure all future suburbs in Alice Springs are truly desert suburbs.


I'm sure all of you have suffered from "Monday morning" depression. Most mornings I wake up and wish that I didn't have to go to school. I'm pretty sure it would be worse for me though if I had to get up every morning and go to work ­ I have enough trouble getting out of bed to work a few hours on the weekend!
Now my friends and I have reached the age where we have two choices ­ stay at school and finish Year 12, or go out into the workforce. Most of us have decided to stay on at school and hopefully get enough marks to get into our preferred courses at university. For us, finishing Year 12 means having a higher level of education and a wider range of work options when we leave school.
Like most things though, there are times when we just feel like giving it all away and doing something we'd enjoy more. Some of my friends quit school at the end of Year 10 and now have apprenticeships ­ I think, good on them!
I want to keep my options open though, because I want to go to university. I have no idea what I want to do yet but I'm thinking about it! Maybe something to do with social work or working for an aid organisation overseas.
Nicole, 16, tells me that sometimes she's been tempted to quit school: "Everyone gets sick of school but after a while you'd get sick of working too."
Rebecca, 16, also says she's thought about it: "But I know if I do, I won't be able to get as good a job in the future as I want to.
"I'm only ever tempted to give it away because school gets boring."
Rebecca wants to study psychology.
Dash, 16, is happy to stay at school so that he can get good qualifications: "I'd like to work as a physiotherapist for a sports team and travel with them."
Coming to a public school this year has been a pretty big change for me (I went to St Philip's until the end of Year 10) and for a couple of my friends. I can certainly say it's very different at Centralian College ­ no uniform, no bells, and no really strict rules.
Because school is no longer compulsory for us, we are there by choice. Centralian treats their students pretty much the same as they would a tertiary student. That is, you choose to go there so it's up to you to do the work.
I haven't found this new "freedom" to be an excuse to skip classes and not do my work. The way I see it is, if you're serious about doing well in life then you can't have people pushing you along all the time to get things done.
If my friends and I want to pass at the end of Year 12 with good marks, it's up to us to hand in our assignments, go to the library and research, turn up for our classes etc.
This "freedom" disciplines us as students to use our time well because if we abuse the system (and in the end, we don't get the marks we wanted), it's no one's fault but ours.
Nicole is also enjoying it at Centralian: "The freedom is good, and let's you enjoy school more. At my old school, it was a lot stricter, but I seem to be doing just as well here and am having a better time."
Dash likes it too: "They treat you like adults and this teaches you to do stuff like get to class on time (because there aren't any bells).
"I also like how there are people here from all different schools because you get to meet lots of new people."
At first I thought it would be pretty scary going to a new school because I didn't think I knew that many people going there. However, despite all my concerns, my time there (so far) has been fantastic. Everyone is really happy and friendly.
I should have known it would be all right because I saw it as being pretty much the same as starting off on my school exchange in India last year, although I didn't know anyone there and I was thousands of kilometres away from home. I mean, at least I am in the same town!
My parents were a bit worried when they saw all the free periods in my timetable. I convinced them that my "study periods" would be used wisely and I assure you that they have been! It's great to be able to do your homework with all your friends around and also with access to the Internet and books in Centralian's library.
Another change that I (and probably every other Year 11 at Centralian) have had to get used to is staying at school until 5pm some days. But I think the late starts some mornings fully compensate for that!
Bec, 16, is in Year 12 at Centralian and as she puts it, "Having free periods in Year 11 and 12 gives you more time to do other things and also gives you a bit of a break from working all the time."
She wants to do childcare when she finishes at the end of the year and is doing that subject as a TAFE course this year.
That's another good thing about Centralian ­ students can take TAFE in School Courses and have them accredited to the Northern Territory Certificate of Eduction (NTCE). If they complete their course successfully, it gives them a head start in that subject at the end of Year 12 if they want to follow that line of study.
Leanne, 15, thinks doing a TAFE course is a good idea "if you don't really know what you want to do when you finish Year 12".
"It gives you on-the-job experience which prepares you for a job when you finish school."
I can't believe that my friends and I have been at school for 12 years already and only have one more year to go. It's kinda scary how fast time flies!


The Young Guns who flocked to Pioneer Park on the weekend were given an insight into the "big daddy" of them all in Centralian racing, the XXXX Alice Springs Cup coming up this weekend.
The main event of last Saturday, raced over 1900 metres, the Coleman's Cup, brought joy to champion Darwin hoop David Bates as his mount, Pim, scored by half a length from 25-1 chance Scintillator with the well fancied local Prince Dubai third. The win places Pim in firm contention for the Alice Cup on Monday.
The gelding will benefit from a huge drop in weight for the event, but will not be without opposition. Newsflash, a galloper from Adelaide, recently acquired by Darwin connections, is not being floated to the Centre on a tourist cruise. So too Donny Brasco, who has experienced racing in Alice, has been relocated to the Centre and has been set specifically for the Cup.
Mt Isa will be represented in the full field by proven performer, Sea Royal. The galloper, who has a good strike rate, performed well over 1100 metres in the Absolute Steel Handicap on Saturday, finishing mid-field. The increased Cup distance will no doubt suit the visitor.
Popular Territory identity Kerry Petrick looks as though she will have three chances in the big race.
Our Mr Kinsman did nothing to destroy his support with a solid performance in the Coleman's Cup. Rockhound also battled on well in the race, and while Rich Sky may have finished near the rear, he cannot be discounted.
The eight-event card on Monday will again draw a huge crowd and the Cup itself will be well supported by feature races, the Queen of the Desert Stakes and the Zuelig Insurance Brokers Handicap.
On Saturday, Family Fun Day, the Schweppes Pioneer Sprint will take pride of place as the feature.
The 1200 metre dash will contain a top class field. Judging from recent performances there are certain gallopers worthy of consideration.
At the top of the field are Butkiss and High Revs. Both have experienced the thrill of Centralian racing and will be well supported.
But coming out of the Absolute Steel Handicap of Saturday are two performers worthy of a flutter. Palooka, who started at 16-1, upstaged the field to edge out Masindor at 8-1 to take the money. Palooka finished second in the Schweppes Sprint last year and will be there on Saturday.
The other galloper to really impress was Bathers.
Bathers climbed over the field to finish in third place despite carrying top weight of 58 kg.
The Alice Springs Turf Club have again put together a bumper weekend of Cup racing. To precede it however will be the now traditional William Inglis and Son Red Centre Yearling Sale. It will be held on Friday night and indoors at the Convention Centre at Lasseters Hotel Casino.
Turf Club chief Steve Smedley recently ventured to Melbourne to ensure stock of value to bidders, and the sale will begin at 8pm after Racing Minister Syd Stirling hosts the traditional Carnival Cocktail Party.


The grand old days of football in Central Australia were revisited on the weekend with two great games played.
In the early match the only component missing were the crowds on the hill as West and Pioneer fought out a five point game which ended in the Bloods' favour.
West kicked 8.7 (55) to Pioneers 6.14 (50).
The late game revealed a new born Federal line up, never out of the game when they went down by 19 points to South 14.10(94) to 11.9 (75).
Pioneer ran on to Traeger for the first time this season having enjoyed the bye in the first round. It is hypothetical as to whether this privilege is an advantage early in the season and by three quarter time coach Roy Arbon probably was wishing that his charges had had the benefit of a work out in the opening round.
Despite this the Eagles had been able to establish a 3.6 to 1.1 lead at quarter time. Instrumental in the Pioneer attack were a fully developed Norm Hagan who ran rampant through the half forward line and set the scene for the Eagles' goal scorers. In the West camp it was a case of little talk, and a poor display of ball handling skills, probably due to nerves.
A standout for West was new recruit Justin Bentley who marked keenly in the forward line and generated attack for the Bloods.
On the other hand tragedy struck for Pioneers in the second term when Ian Taylor fell awkwardly after leaping for a mark and had to be stretchered from the field. Nevertheless Pioneer continued to pepper the goals adding 1.5 to their score for the quarter as opposed to West's solitary goal from Jarrad Slater. Meanwhile, lurking in the mid field was Karl Gunderson who gave West plenty of drive and as the game progressed would prove to be a trump card.
With the score at 4.11 to 2.1 at half time, Pioneer were ruing that they had the game sewn up. Fifteen scoring shots to three is a winner anywhere, anytime!
The feature of the third term was the fact that Pioneer seemed to lack match fitness and could not run the ball as they would in September. Daryl Lowe began the West fight back with a goal off the back of the pack in the goal square. Pioneer replied, but found that the Bloods took the game by the scruff of the neck and had Rory Hood put two consecutive six pointers through the middle.
Interestingly the new chum on the field for West, Bentley, fired up and showed some old fashioned aggression, which resulted in Trevor Dhu and himself resting on the bench for 10 minutes thanks to yellow cards.
At the three-quarter time break little separated the sides with the Eagles 5.11 to West 5.4.
Steven Squires continued the Bloods' revival with a goal early in the final term.
Michael Gurney, after taking a courageous mark at centre half forward, then put the Bloods in the lead for the first time in the match.
The four-point advantage was not long lived however, as Harold Howard took advantage of a Graeme Smith pearler to score and have Pioneer reclaim the lead.
In the dying minutes of play the ball re-entered the Wests' scoring zone and the by now controversial Bentley marked strongly and goaled. With the clock running down, Troy Camilleri took the ball on Wests' half forward line and registered a behind, so soaking up time and giving the Bloods a five point win.
West in celebrating could well have nominated the whole team for their performance.
Gunderson however stood out over the four quarters. Jarrod Berrington took control in the centre, particularly in the last half; Sean Cantwell again played a top game on the ball; and other players to impress were Troy Camilleri and David James.
In the Pioneer camp, confidence would not be down despite the loss. Bentley Brown was a winner all day; Vaughan Hampton gave his usual 100 per cent; Aaron Kopp showed he hasn't lost any of his touch, and Aaron Campbell was prominent.
South ran on in the second game as firm favourites against Federal.
The Feds have opened the season without the services of their appointed coach, Eddie Kitching, and in their first round game against West were firmly beaten. They had Daniel Palmer add to their woes as a late withdrawal due to injury sustained in the Country competition on Saturday, but were reinforced by the appearance of Craig Turner.
The first term was dominated by the exhibitions of two big men: Shane Buzzacott and Shaun Cusack.
Fed's Buzzacott, following on from his five goal haul in the first round, kicked six for the match,t hree being in the first quarter.
At the other end of the ground Cusack booted six also, with two goals in the first stanza, and he was responsible for setting Darren Talbot up for another. At the break Feds lead by two points, 3.3 to 3.1.
To start the second term Cusack took the ball out of a pack in the pocket to score and set South's runners on their way.
They booted 4.4 for the quarter to Federals 2.2 and rested at the big break with a 12-point lead.
In the premiership term, the third, South again dominated putting another 4.3 on the board to Feds 2.2.
A highlight of the quarter came when Cusack launched a huge kick goalwards from outside the 50 metre line, to see it sail through the goals untouched.
In the run home, Federal again had Buzzacott as the centre of attention as they tried to wheel the Roos in, but despite their efforts both sides scored 3.2 for the quarter and left the final result as a 19 point win to the Roos.
The Supers were led to perfection by Cusack, but he had Shane Hayes, Lionel Buzzacott, Malcolm Ross, Trevor Presley and Ali Satour to assist him.
For Feds, Buzzacott was the man; Darren Young showed he will develop into a star; Craig Turner made a welcome return; Simon Neck, Jason Fishook, and Ralph Turner each registered good games.
On the weekend Rovers will face Federal in the early game and then Pioneer will play South.


A short CAAMA-produced language program has been nominated for an international documentary award and been purchased by SBS, who have commissioned a further five minutes of footage.
The film, Trespass directed by David Vadiveloo, brings to the screen in language the views of Mirarr traditional owner Yvonne Margarula.
Margarula came into the national spotlight in 1998 when she was arrested for trespass on her own traditional land, which is also ­ tragically from her point of view ­ the site of the Jabiluka uranium mine.
Trespass was made as part of CAAMA's Nganampa - Anwernekenhe (meaning "Ours") series. As the Central Australian audience knows, this long-running series presents Aboriginal stories and viewpoints in Aboriginal languages. It is the only program for broadcast of its sort in the nation.
Its goals are chiefly maintenance and preservation of Aboriginal cultures for future generations. It is primarily for Aboriginal audiences, but is also seen as an opportunity for "non-Aboriginal people in Australia and throughout the world to learn of this ancient culture".
In this context Trespass is a moving and beautifully made work.
We see Yvonne Margarula in her homeland, with family members, especially children, and hear her speak quietly but firmly, mostly in a voice-over track, of her deep opposition to Jabiluka.
She sees the mine as threatening the children's inheritance and their ability to conduct their own affairs without outside "meddling".
She claims that her father was put under pressure to sign the go-ahead agreement for the mine.
There is also a claim by Jacqui Katona, a "Stolen Generation" Mirarr woman who has returned to fight the Jabiluka campaign alongside Margarula, that alcohol was provided to the Aboriginal people involved in the negotiations for the mine agreement.
Margarula says the Mirarr will never let go: "We are strong". Her conviction is especially poignant in the context of the dwindling numbers of people ­ only 24 ­ who speak her language, a sign no doubt of other aspects of the culture also weakening.
There is no doubt that this short film is engaging, that Margarula's point of view deserves to be heard, and that there is much to learn from the Mirarr's understanding of their homeland. The sequences showing Margarula fashioning a drinking vessel from a piece of bark, and gathering water-lily tubers and "peanuts" are very satisfying in this regard.
However, outside of the Nganampa context, as a "free-standing" documentary, Trespass faces the problems of a one-sided presentation.
It does not give the mining company's point of view, nor the government's, nor Aboriginal viewpoints in support of the mine.
The documentary raises controversial issues without providing its audience with material that would allow a balanced consideration of them.
This is especially a problem for an international audience in all likelihood unaware of the complexities of the issues.
Vadiveloo is conscious of the dilemma.
He says his brief was to record aspects of Mirarr culture and history and that he had neither the screen time nor the budget to treat the issues comprehensively. (The film was made for one tenth of the budget of a standard half-hour documentary for broadcast.)
Vadiveloo has had informal talks with two Australian broadcasters about a one hour film on the subject, involving the "bigger players, if they'll talk" as well as the Mirarr.
The response was not encouraging, although a French broadcaster has been more enthusiastic.
"I'm painfully aware that the film is one-sided but I thought it was important to give an airing to Yvonne Margarula's point of view.
"It touches on issues of massive interest to Australia ­ uranium mining and Aboriginal land rights ­ and if it helps get them back onto the national agenda, and if it assists the Mirarr in what they believe is a legitimate claim, then I'm happy with it."
Two other CAAMA-produced docos have been nominated for the Canadian Golden Sheaf Awards in the Best Documentary category, Mistake Creek, by Allan Collins and For Who I Am, about Bonita Mabo, by Danielle Maclean.


Territory Craft volunteers have been chest-deep in padding and crates as they unwrap the almost 200 Alice Craft Acquisition entries from 120 crafts people throughout Australia.
The annual acquisition is being held for the 27th time this year, providing people in Alice Springs with the opportunity to see craft trends being practised in other parts of the country.
Through the acquisition, Territory Craft has been collecting important works of contemporary Australian craft since 1975. Prior to the establishment of Araluen, the event was known as the National Craft Award and was held in a number of venues around Alice Springs.
Today the permanent collection contains pieces representing a variety of crafts including ceramic, wood, leather, jewellery, paper and a wide range of textiles.
The collection is on a rotating display at the Alice Springs Airport and the Territory Craft Gallery. All entrants go through a selection process.
Expressions of interest along with slides or photographs are assessed by a panel of local professional crafts people.
They look for originality in concept and design and a high level of technical resolution in the chosen medium.
This year's entrants include many crafts people new to the acquisition, including a number of Territorians.
Judges over the years have selected craft works which they believe enrich the overall collection as well as pieces recognised for their own worth.
The acquisition will be opened at Araluen on Friday, May 3 at 6.30pm by Alice Springs Airport General Manager Don McDonald.
The advisor to Territory Craft for the acquisition of works is Grace Cochran, curator of Decorative Arts and Design at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum.
Her professional appointments include membership of both the Crafts Board and the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Artists Creative Fellowship (Keating) committee, the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, the Crafts Council of Australia and three university art school faculty committees.
She is the author of The Crafts Movement in Australia: a History (NSW University Press, 1992) and has contributed to a number of other publications.


Alice may get an after-hours GP service despite the on-going shortage of doctors.
Executive Officer of the Central Australian Division of Primary Health Care, Vicki Taylor says that by combining their existing after-hours services, doctors from the three main GP clinics could decrease their individual workloads.
At present, all three clinics operate separate after-hours rosters. This sees each doctor "on call" every few days, depending on the number of doctors in the practice.
If all doctors were pooled in a single roster, "on call" duties could be cut back to less frequent intervals.
This improved lifestyle could make for "additional ammunition" to attract doctors to the region, says Ms Taylor.
At the same time consumers would benefit. At present, "on call" doctors are usually only available to patients of their clinic. The combined service would be open to everyone.
Ms Taylor says access to after-hours care has been identified as a major issue concerning consumers, particularly the mothers of young babies.
The proposed collaborative roster would be good for patients, including tourists, and for doctors, says Dr Gus Matarazzo of Bath Street Family Medical Practice.
He says the three main clinics are "quite unanimous" in their support of this model.
At present there are technically three doctors, one from each of the three private clinics, working after-hours, as well as one at Congress.
Pooling resources would rationalise the system.
"The workload could be handled by one good quality GP in an independent, fee-for-service system," says Dr Matarazzo. He says fee-for-service would be essential to the viability and sustainability of an after-hours clinic.
He says paying a fee acts to limit the number of people wanting to use an after-hours service, which is supposed to be for emergency care only.
He also says private practice doctors can't be expected to offer a free (bulk-billed) after-hours service, and nor could the service pay for itself on the strength of Medicare rebates.
At present, the Medicare rebate is the same whether a consultation takes place in-hours or after-hours, although after-hours fees are considerably higher.
Dr Matarazzo says just how much patients would be prepared to pay to see a good quality GP after-hours is one of the issues that needs to be carefully assessed.
He says it is also important that the clinic not be co-located with Accident & Emergency (A & E) at the hospital, although the hospital grounds are a possible site and Ms Taylor says that the plan is to use existing infrastructure. Doctors would want to offer the service out of an independent clinic, possibly staffed also by a receptionist and with security facilities.
The clinic would probably operate between 7pm and 11pm, after which patients would have to attend A & E.
"This is very positive," says Dr Matarazzo.
"It's the first time, that I'm aware of, that private GPs in town are coming together to provide a communal service."
Ms Taylor says it is not yet known what impact this type of after-hours service would have on A & E.
"The type of patient attending A & E has not yet been clearly identified," says Ms Taylor.
"That will be important to find out, which we should be able to do by looking at admissions over a two week period."
A meeting last Thursday of the taskforce working on the after-hours service resolved to apply for a development grant from a Commonwealth fund set aside for after-hours primary medical care. The grant would allow the taskforce to develop a refined model of service.
Ms Taylor says the taskforce will also be applying to the NT Department of Health and Community Services for assistance. Consumer representative on the taskforce, Lorraine Heslop, describes last week's meeting as "very productive", but says that the model of service being proposed will not cater to the needs of the whole community.
"There needs to be an on-going look at the needs of people who can't pay and at ways of addressing those needs," says Ms Heslop.
She says the taskforce will undertake a survey of consumers to get a better picture of their needs, including their willingness and ability to pay for the service.
"The fees need to be realistic," she says.
Ms Heslop supports the location of the service at the hospital (although not in A& E), at least in the pilot stages.
"It needs to be easy to access, somewhere where you only need to get out of your car once," she says.


A high profile launch in Alice Springs this week of a charter aimed at remote area cattle station and community stores is grappling with fundamental issues.
On the one hand, having the stores cash welfare cheques for their customers ­ many of them illiterate in English and far from alternative shopping opportunities ­ is open to rip offs.
On the other hand, keeping cash out of the hands of Aboriginal people, who make the "bookup" arrangements out of their own free will, reduces the chance of the money being used for grog, and assures that primarily food is purchased.
Consumer protection tsar Alan Fels, head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and in Alice for the launch of Storecharter, sets out where ­ despite the absence of price control ­ stores may be straying into illegal conduct.
But he also says the reduction of grog-buying opportunities is worth taking into account.
Professor Fels says some of the more common concerns about "bookup" that the Storecharter tries to address are:
€ that consumers surrendering their key cards are unable to retrieve them and are therefore tied to that store;
€ that handing over key cards and PINs makes consumers vulnerable to fraud or exploitation;
€ that consumers don't know how much is being charged for goods or whether the amount of money withdrawn from their account is the same as the amount booked up.
The charter will be adopted by stores voluntarily. Those who adopt it will display the Storecharter logo.
Prof Fels says the charter does not encourage the holding of key cards and specifies that stores should not know the PIN. It requires stores to provide receipts whenever bookup is used and to maintain a clear record of bookup, which can be inspected by the customers or by consumer protection or law enforcement officials.
It does not allow third parties to use a customer's bookup account unless the store has been provided with specific authorisation from the customer.
The store is to make sure that the customer understands the terms and conditions relating to bookup before engaging in it, including any fees or charges or limits to the amount that can be booked up.
The store must return a key card if and when a customer requests it.
Is there anything illegal or improper in stores cashing people's welfare cheques?
Prof Fels says the practice is "not inherently unlawful".
"Stores cashing cheques cover a wide range of circumstances. I am reluctant to give global approval or disapproval. It comes down to how it is done.
"Consumer protection laws do not oppose the practice in principle.
"The Trade Practices Act is basically about misleading or deceptive conduct, or unconscionable conduct.
"You couldn't say that all bookup arrangements are misleading or deceptive, clearly they are not in a large number of cases.
"[If they are in some instances] that's against the Trade Practices Act and against Fair Trading Acts at state and territory levels.
"Unconscionable conduct is not in itself having a bookup system, but if someone takes advantage of it, it could unconscionable.
"The elements of unconscionable conduct in the law are that firstly, the exploiter has got someone cornered, they have no way out; secondly, the exploited person has some special disadvantage in terms of lack of education and knowledge, lack of language skills and resources; and thirdly, they are taken advantage of in a manner that is against conscience."
Prof Fels says one of the reasons that the ACCC is "reluctant to take a global view that bookup arrangements are bad" is because it may work to the advantage of customers in preventing cash being spent on grog.
He expected there to be vigorous debate on this issue at the forum following the launch of the Storecharter.
Overcharging is discussed in the charter. It recognises that in remote areas prices may be higher for legitimate reasons on many occasions, but that some stores may charge unreasonably high prices.
Who is the arbitrator of "unreasonably high"?
Prof Fels: "We don't have price control in Australia.
"The Storecharter suggests that there may be valid reasons for high prices such as transport costs and very low sales volumes, but there may be excessive prices because of limited competition or because some customers don't know they are being charged too much.
"We've recommended in the Storecharter that stores should be able to explain their pricing policy to customers. "Stores should clearly display the prices of all items on sale, through price tags in individual items or, as a minimum, by a shelf price or a sign near the item.
"Prices displayed should include GST when it applies.
"As far as possible stores should provide receipts for everything.
"If there are any conditions in regard to non-cash payments they should be displayed.
"If there's payment Œin kind' a value should be put on it and it should be at a fair market rate."
The Storecharter came about as a result of the ATSIC Regional Council inviting the ACCC to visit a couple of remote communities.
"They saw the necessity to address the issue," says ATSIC Commissioner Alison Anderson, who is calling for proper banking facilities in communities and a food voucher system similar to the one operated by Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs. "In some cases bookup works to people's advantage, and in some cases they are taken advantage of," says Commissioner Anderson.
"One problem is that our people are taught to live beyond the means of their income.
"With Storecharter we're making people aware that they have rights as consumers.
"We want to see good healthy food in stores.
"We want to make sure shops are open six or seven hours a day, that they open on time and that they're good and clean inside.
"Products in the shops shouldn't be out of date ­ especially with dairy products you have to be very careful ­ and there should be choices for people. It's a voluntary charter with a focus on educating consumers, making people aware of good healthy practices," Commissioner Anderson says.
Meanwhile, the Licensing and Gaming Commission is quite clear that "bookup" is not on for takeaway liquor sales:
"Without the written consent of the Commission, no liquor shall be sold for consumption off or away from the licensed premises unless payment for the sale shall be made before or at the time of the supply or delivery of the liquor."
Transactions have to be conducted by normal commercial means.
When that involves "point-of-sale processing of a sale by credit card or debit card Ethe licensee shall not retain possession of the card nor retain or store any data or information taken from or in any way relating to the card'.
"Ein no circumstances shall the licensee seek to know or record a purchaser's PIN in relation to any card or bank account."


Outrage over the lack of provisions for dangerous offenders unfit to stand trial could have been avoided had the previous NT Government followed a national lead.
Attorney General Peter Toyne says the need for such provisions was given currency recently when a deaf mute man, Roland Ebatarintja, facing three counts of aggravated assault, was discharged.
Dr Toyne says courts in the Northern Territory will now be given power to order custodial or non-custodial supervision of people who are unfit to stand trail but are deemed a danger to the community.
He says he will introduce "on urgency" in the May sittings a Bill amending the Criminal Code to this effect. "On urgency" means that the Bill will be able to be heard and passed in the one sittings.
A 1995 murder charge against Mr Ebatarintja had also been previously discharged for the same reason.
However, the issue has been around for a lot longer than this case, says Dr Toyne.
It was considered at a national level in the early 1990s by the Standing Committee of Attorney-Generals.
As a result a model Bill was offered to all states and territories in 1995.
The only jurisdiction to not pick it up was the Northern Territory.
Since then, Dr Toyne says there have been at least two recorded deaths and several serious assaults by people whom the courts have been unable to deal with.
"The previous CLP government by their negligence is directly responsible for the tragedies that have occurred," says Dr Toyne.
He says the previous government also ignored work on the issue by the then Department of the Attorney-General (now the Department of Justice).
He says he was briefed on the matter immediately on taking office, and officers in the department especially deserve credit for the planned reform.
The Bill he will put to the Legislative Assembly aims to protect the community and to provide adequate care for offenders.
If the court determines that an alleged offender is unfit to stand trial, it will nonetheless be able to consider evidence to determine whether on the balance of probability an offence was committed.
"This will clarify the position of people deemed unfit to stand trial: it will put away the charges against them, instead of leaving them in their current limbo," says Dr Toyne.
If the court determines an offence has been committed, it will have the right to order custodial or non-custodial supervision of the offender.
How long these arrangements stay in place without review will be determined in the same way that a custodial sentence is determined.
If after review it is considered that the person still represents a danger to the community, the supervisory arrangements will be able to be continued.
Dr Toyne says the legislation will also call for the Secretary of the Department of Health to provide adequate resources and staff for the arrangements.
Mr Ebatarintja is under 24 hour voluntary supervision in Alice Springs, a decision made by his joint guardians, his grandmother and the Minister for Health.

COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: Showcasing the Centre - painters, nature and rock wallabies.

I had so many comments about "Flying Not So High", Alice and international airport prospects together with Qantas' monopoly and lack of in-flight service, that I was a bit concerned that David's grandchildren, Rebecca (9) and Ben (6), might be off-loaded somewhere!
They did arrive, on Saturday, and our other visitors, David's daughter Miriam and friends Carolyn and Audrey, left on Sunday. Mid-week we had driven out to Standley Chasm in David's wagon, now sporting a shiny new bumper bar (thanks, Andrew!).
Wide tracts of charred ground either side of the highway and clouds of black smoke on the horizon reminded us of the constant bush-fire threat. We parked, then followed the walking trail, admiring photo opportunities every step of the way and those towering red and orange cliffs against a clear blue sky. The kiosk, amenities blocks and grounds were impeccably clean and litter-free. Staff members, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, were welcoming and seemed pleased to see everyone.
An Aboriginal artist was busy applying final touches to a huge dot-style mural in the outdoor sitting area: she was happy to share her knowledge and told the stories depicted in her painting. Everyone was enthralled ­ two rock wallabies joined us as well. What a great cultural experience!
The only one the girls had. They loved our wide open spaces, driving down to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but said they were surprised that there weren't any Indigenous staff members to meet and interact with at Yulara and the Cultural Centre. Miriam enjoyed showcasing the town she's called her second home for almost 20 years: At least her friends now know a little more about the Red Centre.
They commented about how diverse Alice is, not as "red-necky" and more sophisticated than other country towns especially with the range of services and shopping facilities on offer. They loved the desertscape, contrasts, colours, our spectacular countryside. So, the BIG questions: Did they have fun? Would they come back? Will they promote us? As the motivators say: "Yes, yes, yes," but, it's qualified.
The girls were, like the majority of visitors to the Alice, shocked, saddened, and a bit threatened by the spectacle of dozens of Indigenous people, in all stages of sobriety, at times aggressive, sitting or lying across footpaths, blocking access to shops and businesses around Parsons Street and the mall.
"What's everyone waiting for?" we were asked.
The main issues regarding anti-social behaviour are still being ignored and talked around. Minister John Ah Kit and others have identified key problems, from alcohol and substance abuse through to lack of education, hygiene and health problems, but there is still no plan of attack or any proposals regarding where Australia's first inhabitants fit in to today's social structure. In particular those displaced itinerants who have left their communities and have taken over the town centre, camping in the Todd and, again, putting further pressure on Aboriginal people who do live and work in and around the Alice, and on our existing town resources and facilities.
The impact of first impressions usually lasts. Visitors pack them away with photos, souvenirs, "been there and done it" t-shirts and the like. They'll either promote Alice to other travellers, or they won't. We know how easy it is for visitors to bypass Alice and fly direct to Yulara, pick up a three day tour and "do" the little loop, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
If the people of Alice Springs are really serious about preserving lifestyles and optimising tourism potential which will mean future employment and better prospects for everyone, non-Indigenous and Indigenous, we have to smarten our image. Enough is enough.


A 65 per cent decrease in the purchase of sugar; a 175 per cent increase in the purchase of low fat tinned meat and vegetable meals; an 81 per cent increase in the purchase of fruit; and, an 11 per cent increase in the purchase of vegetables.
That sounds like a good news story by any measure. It was achieved by the Laramba community in a Diabetes Prevention Project, funded by the National heart Foundation and evaluated by Marg Tyrell, a Centre for Remote Health Master's degree student in Public Health, in partnership with CRH evaluators John Grundy and John Wakerman.
Mr Grundy says the evaluation revealed that two key factors contributed to the success of the project: strong community leadership, and a partnership between community-based workers and a public health officer whose job it was to generate program activities.
Such a partnership had not occurred before in the community. They worked with the Women's Centre on nutrition education and food preparation, which linked in with another initiative, the community's vegetable garden.
There were education events, such as diabetes camps and a diabetes disco, and other sports and recreation activities.
A store policy was introduced, and purchasing behaviour monitored, revealing the excellent results recorded above.
The project was unable to measure any movement in the level of diabetes as there had been no prior screening of the community's health status.
Now, however, the community leadership has agreed to such a screening, which will take place as part of the second stage of the evaluation.
This will be conducted by CRH's Ilan Warchivker.who'll be looking at economic costs and benefits of the project.
The first stage did measure increased access to health services by community members and improved health service performance, including better collaboration with other services in the community, such as the school and the Women's Centre.
Says Mr Grundy: "Another important indicator of the success of this project was the way the community leadership used community resources to assist, for instance using CDEP to pay the community-based workers.
"They really took the lead, they were advising the health services and setting the agenda."
More generally, this is an example of the direction in which the CRH wants to take academic research.
Mr Grundy is one of three academics working on a four-year national project called Primary Health Care Research Evaluation Development.
"We are working to get research projects set at community level, by the leadership, or at practice level, by doctors, nurses and health workers.
"In this way research is likely to be of benefit to the community, instead of simply adding to the number of reports out there.
"It's a big job, aiming to change the culture and agenda of research, but it's an important one."
A collaboration between CRH, Flinders University and Tangentyere Council is a good example.
The project, proposed initially by Tangentyere Council, is aimed at injury prevention.
In the first instance it will analyse the causes of injury on remote communities. A substantial literature review is being undertaken by Alexis Wright, while a researcher is being recruited to work with Indigenous researchers.
They will collect information on the incidence and causes of injury, as well as on the programs in place to prevent such injuries, such as night patrols.
A second stage will evaluate the efficacy of the programs, and a third stage will help the communities to either strengthen them or to develop new ones.
"The project wants to help people tackle some of these problems at the grass roots," says Mr Grundy.


The new Centre for Remote Health, behind the Old Alice Springs Gaol, is a step forward in arid zone design at many levels.
Architect Brendan Meney says it strives to be "culturally inclusive", recognising the "layered custodianship" of the landscape by both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
Sacred sites contribute to a holistic landscape by thinking with the land: The building is staggered around trees sacred to the Arrernte, embracing them and creating integral natural courtyards. In this way, via the visual connection and linking timber decks, staff and students have access to the trees without being physically on the sites.
Tree root and canopy relationships are integral to the design. The circular courtyards were formed by the construction limits set by the arborist in consultation with traditional owners' representatives.
Sight lines between the trees have been maintained to form a "cultural trail".
The building also draws its form from the harshness and the uniqueness of the arid zone environment.
Internal spaces open up to the elements when conditions are mild. The layout of the building wings and the placement of openings allow easy cross ventilation and offer a flexible natural alternative to the typical "air-conditioned shell" working space.
The site lies within a potential flood zone of the Todd River. Having to raise the above natural ground to a minimum 300mm higher than the anticipated 1:100 year flooding level, facilitated the integration of a passive cooling system for the central internal spaces. The mass of the building cools air passing under it through underfloor ducts, which utilise thermal exchange. A solar roof space promotes thermo-syphoning.
Together with a natural lighting regime, reverse brick veneer and controlled thermal mass construction, minimal fencing, an integral building management system and a bush medicine garden, the CRH responsibly implements whole-of-life design principles.
Excluding fencing further guarantees the visual outlook as well as access needs for the Aboriginal custodians.
The butterfly-style roof forms reinforce the canopy visuals and are stepped down as the building advances towards the street to achieve a more human scale height and embracing effect at street level.
The building utilises a combination of materials, finishes and forms that work together to link the landscape to the working environment.
The blade vent walls attached to the thermal mass on the east / west faces of the building have a corrugated copper penny finish which reinforces the rich colours and raw expression of the "red" desert.
The core education spaces of the building are designed to open up and take advantage of internal and external interaction. Corridors are kept to a minimum, with the outlook, forms and volumes of the internal spaces constantly changing shape and direction as people move through.
The hierarchy of the entrances has been staged from main, through staff to 24 hour student entries and has been played down intentionally to reduce the public building grandeur often associated with entry into institutions.
The use of desert red rammed earth walls to frame the main entrance compliments the warm paint colours and raw metal finishes used in the cladding.
Correct orientation principles ensure efficient control of solar gain and manipulation within and onto the building fabric.
Where the sun angles are low in the sky on the east and west, lightweight vent blade walls have been attached to the sand filled concrete block walls (thermal mass) to counter the summer solar gain. These venting "skins" have been constructed in a simple, cost-effective manner by creating venting top and bottom to allow cool air to naturally exhaust the warm air generated from solar gain.
The majority of the offices have been located in linear wings, which offer easy access to cross ventilation, solar control and ingress of natural light. All offices have ceiling fans to create localised cooling and support the natural cross-venting action.
The levels and quality of natural light entering the spaces reduces the use of artificial lighting to a minimum. For the lecture rooms, lighting sensors have been installed to ensure that groups do not leave lights on unnecessarily.
External security and area lighting is linked through both timers and photoelectric cells which interact to most efficiently supply artificial lighting when it is vital. Lightweight shade canopies, using celled polycarbonate, are slung on structures on the external decks, offering weather protection with clean lines from underneath. They reflect high heat loads away, whilst allowing soft diffused light to enter the building.
The executive offices on the south offer high level northern light and cater for flow-through ventilation via louvres.
The whole of the building has zoned air conditioning via individual plants all linked to a central building management system for efficiency of operation and energy control. Unoccupied areas can be shut down as necessary.
Each of the communal office areas in the west and north-east wings has localised split units so the air is delivered at varying capacities according to heat load and user requirements.
The abundant ideal outside weather in Alice Springs during most of the year has been captured through the use of operable walls from the main two lecture spaces and direct access from offices onto external decks.
If doors are opened then the mechanical air conditioning shuts down automatically to the localised area to allow natural cross ventilation without effecting other parts of the building.
A series of dwarf walls supporting the suspended slab has been utilised as a cost-effective solution for natural cooling of parts of the building. By providing a labyrinth air path to maximise thermal exchange between the in-coming ventilation air and the ground /building mass above, the greatest cooling effect achievable is gained. These natural ventilation intake paths deliver the cool air via floor grilles into the main education rooms and core of the complex.
In conjunction with the under floor air system the ceiling space is being utilised as a solar chimney to assist in the action of drawing the air through the internal space and exhausting it via motorised thermostatically controlled roof vents on the west side. This is being achieved by an unlined corrugated iron roof which will allow considerable heat build up from the sun and induce the natural thermo-syphoning effect efficiently drawing the cooled air through the core of the building.
Interlinking with the building management system allows the system to operate automatically with the air-conditioning system to achieve the comfort levels required.
Ongoing monitoring and research of the system is being facilitated through the installation of data logger sensors within the building which will feed back information both locally and to Flinders University engineers in Adelaide, assessing the system and its possible application to other projects.
All the office partition walls and ceilings have been designed by engineers to ensure more efficient acoustic and thermal regimes are created.
An ultra violet filter rainwater collection and distribution system has been installed to reduce that amount of off site water loss and to support higher quality water for drinking.
The tank is located underground to improve its insulation qualities, keep the water cooler in summer and reduce its visual impact.
Installation of the bush medicine garden enhances the natural environment already established. Local botanist, Jock Morse designed the built landscaping as a bush medicine garden. The long term watering regime required is minimal and the garden allows the training of medical practitioners in interaction with local Aboriginal people.
A strong partnership between users, the project managers and architects ensured the incorporation of passive energy design features within the budget allowance.
The building allows a number of the spaces such as the multi-purpose lecture rooms, tutorial and meeting rooms, break-out areas and library space to be used for gatherings simultaneously without overcrowding occurring. Coupled with the 24 hour student zone the complex offers a high degree of cost-effective functionality.
The design is being looked at as an appropriate arid zone model for the Desert Knowledge Project.


This last instalment of SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH's history of the Pine Gap protests takes us to 1987 when an anti-bases conference attracted international delegates and saw the Alice Springs Peace Group take on an increasingly professional profile. The group's focus also broadened as it moved towards a more international and anti-colonial identity.
The 1987 conference arose out of an earlier conference of like-minded groups held in Sydney in 1986. That first conference approved a national "Close the Bases" campaign, the first leg of which was to focus on Pine Gap. Peter Garrett launched it in July 1986.
Pine Gap was chosen partly because it was (and is) the most important base in Australia and partly to coincide with the date for the expiry and proposed renewal of the lease agreement. Preventing the lease renewal was the ultimate goal of these actions.
In 1986 the Peace Group had served an eviction notice on the base, with twelve months to quit (as required by the lease agreement). In preparation for the conference the group had managed to raise funds (largely from supporters in Sydney and Melbourne) for two full time workers for one year, on miserable wages but workers nonetheless, and an office.
These workers strove to increase and strengthen links to other organizations around the Pacific, there being at that time a push towards an independent and nuclear-free Pacific. This concept brought with it the involvement of numerous small Pacific nations and groups that were fighting for independence. New Zealand had declared itself nuclear-free several years previously and New Zealanders were also active in this arena.
Deborah Durnan was one of the paid workers and recalls: "They'd upped the ante and so had we. We all became obsessive researchers. I was reading military journals in bed at night, just to get across the technical detail we needed to know. Everyone had their own areas that they had to research.
"We were also sure that we were being infiltrated as a group, and so some things went on in secret. When we planned an action only a few people out of the whole group might know it was going to happen.
"A number of people were also sure that their telephone was tapped and I know at least one person who made it a rule never to talk about the Peace Group on the telephone."
The conference opened on the 19th of October 1987 and was attended by three to four hundred people. International delegates came from the Philippines, New Zealand, East Timor and Kanaky, which at the time was fighting for independence from the French.
Delegates talked about the various aspects of their experience with bases and colonialism for several days. They were also driven around for an inspection tour of various sites of base operations, including the so-called "Seismic Monitoring Station" and Collins Radio. Following that they undertook a series of intensive protest actions at the gates of the base that resulted in approximately 200 arrests.
The major actions were coordinated with police and involved masses of people going through the perimeter and immediately being arrested by police. Following the violence that had occurred in '83 both police and protesters recognised that a more controlled process would be beneficial to both sides. There were also actions that were less controlled, undertaken by "affinity groups", and these also resulted in numerous arrests.
All protesters were asked to abide by a code of conduct, and membership of an affinity group and training in non-violent protest were parts of the code of conduct.
The conference and the protests again focused national and international attention on the base but it also achieved an important change in national consciousness. People generally stopped calling the Pine Gap base "the space base" because it was now generally accepted that Pine Gap was (and is) a spy base.
The nation also knew now that Australians probably benefited very little from the intelligence gathered by the base. By maintaining the pressure on Australian politicians, admissions to this effect had been gradually and painfully wrung from them.
But a change in emphasis had occurred both within the Peace Group and in the world around them. The Soviet Union was being dismantled as a communist state by Mikhail Gorbechev. The Cold War seemed to be diminishing in relevance, and a period of détente beginning.
Consequently, the peace movement seemed to be losing relevance, and anti-colonial issues had been brought to the fore both by recent world events and at a local level by the links that the Peace Group itself had made.
Atrocities in East Timor and Chile were an international focus at the time. This evolving emphasis had its formal expression as the "Regional Links Group".
Actions at the Pine Gap gates continued through 1988, and 12 delegates from Northern Territory peace groups (10 from Alice Springs) also visited the Philippines to attend a conference in Manila and participate in anti-base protests.
In following years protests continued but the peace movement (both locally and internationally) seems to be running out of steam. The Alice Springs Peace Group shared an office with the Arid Lands Environment Centre until 1993, when it officially de-incorporated.
By this time, however, some members of the group had decided to focus on East Timor, following up on connections they'd made in previous years and because of the sense of urgency produced by the Dili massacre in 1991.
The "Friends of East Timor" group was formed locally as a means of focusing upon that issue. It was felt at the time to be necessary to maintain separation between the Timor issue and the activities of the Peace Group.
The Pine Gap protests had mostly been a thankless campaign, where successes were marked only by the degrees of publicity achieved and by small and grudging changes of policy or title, but the base remained immovable and supported by the Australian Government throughout the period.


The Super Roos pounced onto Traeger Park on Sunday as though they were out to let Central Australia know that the 2002 flag was theirs.
Coach Shaun Cusack had all guns blazing for the opening volley of the year, and as the game went on counterpart John Glasson responded with some telling salvos from his quarter that took it right up to the Kangas.
At the end of the day South ran out winners by three points, 19.13 (127) to 19.10 (124).
In the main event the laurels went the way of Wests with an 87 point win over Federal 23.14 (152) to 9.11 (65). While the scoreline indicated a decisive win, both sides came out with measured confidence.
The South versus Rovers encounter was played in many parts. At the first bounce Shaun Cusack, rather than manning centre half back, was in civvy attire and coaching from the sideline.
So too in the Rovers' box, John "Moose" Glasson declared himself as a non-playing coach.
On field Souths placed a side of true believers, with Adrian McAdam returning to the ranks; Willy Tilmouth , Darren Talbot, and Alby Timouth again displaying the colours; and Herman Sampson leading the push from the bush.
For Rovers, Roger Thompson led the charge of the new recruits, and the seasoned professional Karl Hampton joined the ranks, after a distinguished career with the Eagles.
South jumped to an early lead by scoring 6.3 to 3.4 in the first term. Charlie Maher, in fronting for the Roos, gave plenty of drive and capitalised with a goal. Gilbert Fishook came good with two; and other singles went the way of Trevor Presley, Brendan Forrester and Willy Tilmouth.
In response Rovers kept themselves in the game, with Kasman Spencer scoring and, the man they can never keep out of any game, Glen Holberton, nailing two.
The second quarter was yet another confidence-builder for the Roos. They booted five goals to three for the term and held a 32-point lead at the big break.
Willy Tilmouth proved the inspiration in this term with a three-goal haul. He ran through the half forward line with gay abandon leaving the Rovers defenders in his wake. Fishook chimed in with a goal, and the dynamic Darren Talbot slotted a major.
In reply Sherman Spencer showed signs of hitting his straps when he scored a goal; one came off the boot of Josh Schultz and a third from Holberton. At the half time break one would have expected the game to be South's for the taking, but as is often the case at Traeger Park the third term proved to be a challenge.
Nigel Lockyer opened proceedings from the forward pocket with a goal for the Supers after they had peppered three consecutive points through the behind posts.
Then in an inspirational turn of events the ball spent most of its time in the Rovers' zone. Sherman Spencer threaded one through from a half forward line set shot. Soon after he buttered up with six points from the pocket, then Edric Coulthard, accustomed to being seen in the backline scored a goal for the Blues.
The run was continued when Karl Hampton took a set shot from half forward and didn't let the side down. Points followed from the impressive monster Kriss Sparnon before Holberton again came into the picture with a goal from the pocket.
In a matter of 20 minutes, while South apparently had a sleep, the Blues had themselves back in the game. At three-quarter time only three points separated the sides, with South up 12.11 to 12.8.
The Roos came out breathing fire to start the last term. Jeremy Scrutton scored within the first minute from in front, and McAdam blazed a pearler through to re-establish command of the game. Brendan Forrester then put the Roos in a commanding position with a goal taken off hands in the square. Kasman Spencer then responded with a major for the Blues, even though by this stage he was moving on one leg.
Rovers were given yet another reprieve when Malcolm Ross, a gun for the Roos, was red carded. A point followed the incident, which was disappointing, but Kasman Spencer took control of the situation and brought Rovers back into the game with a goal.
In something of a turnaround, the now dubbed "hook foot" Sparnon from his mark, speared the ball between the posts like a true professional. Moments later Brett Wright stamped his name on the game with a goal to bring Rovers within two points. Full of confidence Spencer again goaled to arrest the lead. In the dying minutes of the game Holberton again burst onto the scene with a memorable performance. He kicked two consecutive goals, which many a commentator would describe in a colourful way. Despite this Rovers had established a lead and looked home for the money. But this was not to be. Souths got the run of the ball with McAdam scoring a goal thanks to a 50 metre decision; Shaun McCormack adding another with a soccer off the ground; and McAdam taking the ball off the pack in the goal square to have Souths hit the lead. The siren sounded with the Roos taking the points.
The main game was by no means up to the standard of the South versus Rovers challenge. The heart went out to the umpires, Greg Gilbert, Bruce Were and Andrew Modra, who lined up to umpire a second consecutive match. It was little wonder that Modra was munching on a banana as he ran back onto the arena!
With Andrew Crisp unavailable due to a broken hand, Michael Gurney for West tossed the coin with Fed's Darryl Ryder.
The Bloods showed no mercy from the first bounce with their mid-fielders, headed by Jarrod Berrington, forging the ball forward.
They had a seven goal to two first term, with Daryl Low instrumental in many of the Bloods' half forward line attacks.
Steven Squires capitalised on the opportunities at hand and scored three goals for the quarter; the optometrist from Coburg, showed promise with two; and singles went to Karl Gunderson, and Gurney who threaded through a true backman's punt. In reply, Federal had their share of the play. Daniel Palmer had three chances to goal and scored only one pointers. Ryan Thomson missed at his first chance and then nailed a goal, and Shane Buzzacott scored a major.
Being the confidence game that football is, the Bloods thrived from their quarter time position of 7.2 to 2.4 while Feds faded. West added six goals for the term to three. Berrington took full control of the centre and brought Adrian Dodson into play. The 17 year old, who has already run on several times for Southern Districts, fitted in well to the West game and was responsible for many attacking moves.
The other recruit, Slater, proved his true worth in the centre half forward position. He moved like a natural and besides scoring two goals himself, set the scene for Squires in the goal front.
By half time the game was bundled up in red and black, as the Bloods held a 36 point lead.
It lost tempo in the last half with West scoring five goals to two in each of the terms. Squires finished the day with 10 goals and proved that he has the ability to develop into a fine player.
Slater dominated at the centre half forward position and has been a major pick up.
Berrington is class, as shown by his performance with Rovers last year, and with a string of talent around him, 2002 could prove to be another top year for him.
Shaun Cantwell is still only a lad, and rucked well. But talking youngsters, credit should go to Luke Hodges, who played Under 18s, B Grade and then in the As!
The Federal camp, although going home 87 point losers, can take consolation from the performance. Palmer and Buzzacott are play-makers in the forwards. Darryl Ryder is a leader, and Francis Hayes, Darren Young and Derek Ronson are play-makers. Craig Turner and several others are due to return, and the club attitude is positive.
This week Pioneer make their first appearance for the year against West in what will be a blockbuster. South will take on Federal in the late game.


Marina Strocchi's paintings read like a bowerbird's nest of symbols of the culture, or I should say cultures, of the bush.
They're mostly but not exclusively associated with the Northern Territory.
Ned Kelly pops up in a couple of the linens, and generic kitchen utensils in some of the gouaches, but the stamp of the Territory, where Strocchi has spent the last 10 years, is unmistakeable.
Its vast spaces, soon to be crossed by the long-promised railway, at a more intimate scale are populated by the vegetation of here the Western Desert, there the Top End, native and introduced animals, the ships of the north, the earth-moving machinery of mines in the south. Readabilty is suggested by the way the symbols are arranged on a flat plane in orderly lines and grids, like a storyboard or a panel of hieroglyphics.
Readability though, other than as an expression of affection and delight, is not Strocchi's concern.
"I'm trying to achieve harmony of colour, line, shape and pattern," she says. She could also add texture to the list: a couple of her large linens are very engaging for their carefully textured surface of short brush strokes.
The gouache surfaces are also interesting for their dense layering.
The small format gouaches are more what viewers are used to from Strocchi.
The exhibition that opened at Araluen on the weekend is a departure: Strocchi is working for the first time in a large format, making the transition with remarkable confidence.
Although with the first of these, Tennant Creek, she allowed more "air" into the frame, on the whole the large linens are as tightly packed as her smaller works. In this way they are like a catalogue of plenty, exuding an aura of repleteness, as after a delicious meal.
One could wonder though what would happen if Strocchi broke with this system?
The show includes explorations in a couple of different directions: there are two representational (as opposed to codefied) landscapes, both featuring Top End vegetation, Strocchi's strong sense of patterning responding particularly to the silhouettes of Woolley Butt trees. There is also a charming still life, The Kitchen, the room, its forms and colours lovingly rendered.
Strocchi has long been a facilitator of other people's work, in particular the painters of Haasts Bluff, whose influence especially on her motifs is apparent, and Kintore.
This show underlines for the local audience (she has already had three solo shows in Melbourne and has been acquired by major national collections) that she is a fine and committed artist in her own right.


Remote communities in The Centre are having more success than Alice Springs in attracting general practice doctors.
Joy Burch, Executive Officer for the federally-funded Remote Health Workforce Agency which works across the Territory outside Darwin, says she is surprised that recruitment of doctors for remote communities has been more successful than recruitment for Alice Springs.
Ms Burch says ­ "in broad brush terms" ­ Alice currently needs the equivalent of four more full-time doctors to cover day to day access to GP services.
This would bring the coverage to one doctor per 1200 to 1500 people.
Remote communities at present are covered for ratios of one doctor per 400 to 800 people. The lower ratio takes into account the absence of other health services, as well as the high burden of disease in many communities.
Ms Burch says remote communities offer experience that suits some doctors' interests.
To attract doctors with an interest in rural, rather than remote, practice, she says Alice Springs may have to be more aggressive in promoting itself as an interesting and enjoyable place in which to work and live.
Practice manager at Bath Street Family Medical Centre, Gay Watson, says locums often express surprise about the town and its lifestyle: "They expect it to be a dusty little town and they're pleasantly surprised when they find it isn't.
"But how do we get them to stay?"
Bath Street is currently "one and a half full-time doctors down", much better than earlier in the year when it was two and a half.
Not only did this mean that doctors were desperately busy during the day and patients were enduring long waits, but the practice's ability to provide 24 hour care through an after-hours roster was stretched to the limit.
Ms Watson says there were occasions when it was simply not possible and after-hours patients had to be referred to Accident and Emergency at the hospital.
A specific after-hours service for Alice was identified as a priority in a public meeting as far back as 1996.
It is now the subject of a project by the Central Australian Division of Primary Health Care, which is looking at different models for the service to determine which would best suit Alice Springs.
However, Ms Watson rates general access to GP services as a more pressing need.
"Generally, our patients can see a doctor within two days, although the waiting list for one of our doctors is four weeks," she says.
"If the matter is urgent, a patient can usually be seen on the same day, but it won't necessarily be by the doctor of their choice and most patients do like continuity.
"When we had enough doctors we ran emergency sessions every afternoon. "At the moment we can't do that, although we do try to keep a few appointment times free each day for emergencies.
"At present we are covered for the after-hours demand," says Ms Watson.
Gus Matarazzo, long-time doctor at Bath Street, says a factor influencing the availability of GPs is that many are now choosing to work part-time.
"Ten to 15 years ago, doctors worked from morning to dark, virtually to the exclusion of everything else," says Dr Matarazzo.
"Now many choose to preserve their quality of life and work part-time. "This includes lady doctors, who are always in high demand, but who may be working around having children and raising them."
Ms Burch says the talk around town is that people can be waiting for a week to see a GP.
However, in her discussion with the three main practices, including Bath Street, she has been assured that, with the right advice to the front desk, patients with chronic illness will be able to see their doctor, while sick children, for example, will be able to see a doctor, even if it's not their doctor of choice.
"This may require ringing around," says Ms Burch, "but that can happen anywhere, not just in Alice Springs."
The four new doctors would not cover the after-hours need, says Ms Burch. That would require further recruitment. Just how many would depend on the model adopted.
Meanwhile, in collaboration with the NT Department of Health, the agency is launching a new recruitment drive focussing on Alice.
This includes placing stories about medical practice in town in medical journals and presenting papers at major medical conferences coming up in Adelaide and Melbourne this month and next.
Dr Matarazzo says one of the important points to get across is that general practice in Alice Springs does not necessarily involve Aboriginal health issues, which not all doctors feel they are equipped to deal with.
"It is possible for doctors to carry on mainstream, good quality general practice here, much as they do in suburbs around the country," says Dr Matarazzo.
The agency also advertises internationally and as a result is expecting a doctor from the UK to arrive in town in May.
It also manages for the NT Government a scheme that allows overseas-trained doctors to work in areas of need, which after five years will result in their Australian medical registration and permission to migrate. Ms Burch says the agency has to remain vigilant.
"The shortage of doctors in rural areas is a national problem. We are competing with every other state.
"Our problem is how to make practice in Alice Springs more appealing than practice in a rural area just outside Sydney or any of the other major cities."


Australia's last frontier of mining, the Pitjantjatjara tribal lands south of Alice Springs, has become the battle ground for two major Aboriginal organisations.
The row is serious enough for SA's Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Terry Roberts to be talking about "a new form of governance and new criteria for funding in that region" ­ and about a plebiscite.
The area's oil, nickel and platinum deposits are estimated to be worth billions of dollars, yet there still isn't a single major mine, and even exploration has been sporadic.
Except for two minor cattle stations and art enterprises there are no significant commercial enterprises.
The 4000 Pitjantjatjara in the western top end of SA and adjoining regions of WA and the Territory ­ some 350,000 square kilometres ­ survive mainly on welfare.
Unemployment, poverty, petrol sniffing and alcoholism are rampant, with troubles spilling over into Alice Springs, the region's major centre.
Says Mr Roberts, whose Labor government was installed just six weeks ago: "What's occurring at the moment is absolutely disgusting.
"There are people in the lands, young people, who are dying from the effects of petrol sniffing.
"The communities are in a state of disarray.
"They need assistance from us and that's what they will be given ... a new way forward."
The current row focuses on the portion of "the lands" in SA, well over 100,000 square kilometres, under the control of Anangu Pitjantjatjara (AP), a statutory body set up by the SA Government.
At issue are the rights ­ enshrined in the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 ­ of the highly traditional Aboriginal population to control the use of its land.
While the older people are apprehensive about change, some of the young are looking to commercial development for a way out of their wretched existence.
AP is locking horns with the Pitjantjatjara Council (PC), based in Alice Springs.
PC is headed by chairman Gary Lewis, a former AP director, and Yami Lester, former chairman of AP.
Mr Lester is an Aboriginal activist with powerful connections, who achieved international prominence by seeking compensation for his blindness which he blames on the British nuclear tests at Maralinga.
AP chairman Owen Burton claims that Mr Lewis has no authority because there are "serious doubts" that there was a proper election for chairman at the AGM.
"The Pitjantjatjara Council does not hold proper meetings."
However, PC senior lawyer Mark Ascione says PC held four meetings in the last six months, including one in March this year.
Mr Ascione says PC has a contract with AP to exclusively provide legal and anthropological services. But consultant Chris Marshall, engaged by AP, claims that contract is "null and void".
Last week PC's three lawyers and two anthropologists, as well as support staff, who'd all been working without pay for weeks, were packing their bags and shutting down the service.
Putting the finishing touches on the "Pit" Council's 25th annual report was one of their final tasks, along with selling cars and computers to raise money for severance payments.
It was a tough finale for an organisation whose high points included successfully lobbying for land rights in SA, and the "hand back" of Ayers Rock.
Rumours of a last minute rescue bid for PC's troubled services seem to be wishful thinking. Mr Roberts says their demise is "tragic, but unfortunately the time frames by which organisations are operating [are different] from the time frames of governments [required] to act within the legislation.
"This is a frustration but it is a reality.
"No shortcuts are to be taken by government.
"If one group collapses I won't be talking to that group.
"My main responsibility then becomes a new governance program that incorporates representation for all people in that area, and that means [cooperation with] the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth and if need be, Western Australia."
While the PC still exists, its capacity to function without key staff is unclear.
Matters came to a head when after decades of failure, AP appointed Alice-based Mr Marshall, who's been assisting Aboriginal organisations in trouble for the past seven years, to straighten out the organisation.
His fees are paid from a special grant to AP from ATSIC and the SA Department of State Aboriginal Affairs.
He recommended AP to get its own lawyer and anthropologist, using PC's legal and anthropological services for excess work (while ­ at least for the time being ­ fully retaining the council's accounting and infrastructure services).
"However, the Pit Council adopted a scorched earth policy, demanding all or nothing.
"AP is now going it alone entirely."
He says AP "would prefer" its professional staff to be based at Umuwa ­ a bizarre mini Canberra in the middle of the desert, just south of Ernabella.
It's clearly not an idea that appeals to Mr Roberts: "My position has been from day one that the Pitjantjatjara Council has a political and service delivery role to play and you just can't isolate an organisation on the basis of a single agenda of separation of legal and anthropological services.
"That just doesn't make sense."
The dispute was further complicated by the change of government in SA. The defeated Liberals, who Mr Ascione claims wanted to promote a string of mining ventures, supported AP's pro-development agenda.
But Mr Marshall says it's not a development, but an "empowerment" agenda.
The SA Government funds AP to the tune of $1m a year. Of that, $700,000 comes from ATSIC which, through its Port Augusta office, has provided a further $1.6m direct to PC for constructing a solar farm at Umuwa.
PC says the farm is now mid-way through construction, which may stop before completion.
Mr Roberts has clearly inherited a can of worms.
He has tried ­ but so far failed ­ to get "to a point where the AP executive was totally representative of all interest groups within the three sides of the borders Ewith an efficient organisational structure that is then able to tap into state and Commonwealth funds."
However, Mr Burton says: "Sadly, Terry Roberts seems unable to clearly see what the issues are in the dispute between AP and the Pitjantjatjara Council.
"If he can't support us he should get out of the way."
As the conduit for a lot of public money Mr Roberts must make sure it is spent in accordance with the law, and much of the current heat is generated by the issues relating to mining.
Mr Ascione says there are strong suspicions that AP is seeking to bastardise the prescribed consultation processes, in favour of mining companies, to the extent even of breaking the law.
Mr Marshall says mining authorities of the SA government have been "stimulating" progress with mining on the lands, and resource exploitation will be one of the commercial activities on which an imminent review of commercial opportunities will focus.
Mr Ascione says in the past year 12 exploration licences have been approved by PC, more that in the last 20 years.
The Act, says AP, before authorising any activity by outsiders on Pitjantjatjara land, must ensure that traditional owners with an interest in land affected must
€ understand the nature and purpose of the proposal;
€ have had the opportunity to express their views to AP;
€ and consent to the proposal.
In any case, the present process for approving mining activities seems tedious.
Only three exploration tenements are allowed on the lands by PC at any one time.
Mr Ascione says their approvals should take no more than 120 days, but "in practice the process has been delayed up to six months because of wet weather, unsealed roads and cultural death".
He says when it comes to allowing mining itself ­ a stage not yet reached for any major projects anywhere on the lands ­ "AP and mining companies have agreed Ethat any mining lease proposals will extend negotiations from between three and five years".
With ferocious claims to be the proper representative body coming from both AP and PC, how will Mr Roberts find out who's right?
And has AP, by cutting off PC's money and so sending it down the gurgler, acted legally and with the consent of the SA Government?
Says Mr Roberts: "I am setting up an inquiry, internally, into how the decisions were made [by the just defeated Liberal government in SA], first of all into the confrontationist methods of the negotiation, and why the time frame was set in a way that forced the closure of the Pitjantjatjara Council, if that's the case, and forced them from the negotiating table.
"And then I'm going to set up another enquiry of eminent people to put together recommendations for change that incorporates a new form of governance and new criteria for funding in that region."
That board of enquiry is rumoured to include activist lawyer Phillip Toyne, the key player in the Ayers Rock hand-back, Mick Dodson and Rick Farley.
Says Mr Roberts: "If the AP position is in conflict with the recommendations the government picks up, then we'll have to have a look at the legislation.
"Ultimately the question of governance will be in the hands of traditional owners and those people who represent them. The representation question is still open."
But Mr Burton says: "The Minister can have all the inquiries he likes, but the fact is that AP is going ahead with its plan to get better value for money for its professional services and to establish strong governance on the AP Lands."
How will Mr Roberts ascertain the views of some 4000 people, for many of whom English may be their third or fourth language, and who are spread over 350,000 square kilometres of semi-desert?
Says the Minister, who has clearly not given up hope for PC's ongoing viability: "There is already an executive of the Pitjantjatjara Council in place who represent traditional owners' interests.
"I'll be asking them to help me to conduct meetings in remote areas.
"We can't have the Pitjantjatjara Council or the AP making claims of representation if those claims can't be justified among traditional owners, bearing in mind that both bodies are answerable to the communities.
"They are the people who have to be canvassed in any plebiscite."
But Mr Marshall disagrees that PC has "any legitimate role in the process the Minister envisages.
"AP is the statutory body established by the SA Parliament to represent traditional owners."
Pitjantjatjara people in the NT and WA have set up their own organisations, making PC "largely irrelevant".
If PC was the "mother" of these new groups ­ including Anangu Pitjantjatjara ­ then she must now gracefully allow her kids to go their own ways.


The "Galaxy versus four bicycles" action won national and international coverage for the anti-bases movement. This is Part Five of SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH's series on the history of the Pine Gap protests. The "Galaxy versus four bicycles" action marks the high point of humour in this story, although opinion divides sharply on that point. One person I interviewed insisted that there was no humour in it: it was frightening and way too dangerous.
The action also dramatises beautifully the "David and Goliath" nature of this whole struggle.
In 1985 the Reagan administration had announced what became known as the "Star Wars program". At mind-boggling expense, a system of early warning devices and guided missiles was to be developed so that it could intercept any nuclear warheads before they reached the US. (Further development of this program is currently being undertaken by the George W. Bush administration).
In January 1985 it became public that Pine Gap was being upgraded as part of this plan. The Galaxy, a new and bigger aircraft than had previously made the run from the US to Alice Springs, came into service, moving parts for the construction work and goods for the employees. One day in July of 1985 at least five people broke into the airport grounds and hid in the scrub next to the tarmac. A decoy demonstration was planned for the same day and most security officers were focused on the unruly crowd gathered at the arrivals and departures fence, not far from the northern edge of the tarmac (one needs to recall or imagine a much older and smaller airport than our current version).
As the Galaxy approached and prepared to land, four people with bicycles on their shoulders raced across the bare ground towards the eastern end of the tarmac, where they mounted their bicycles and rode furiously west up the tarmac.
Back at the terminal there was consternation, not only because of the cyclists but also because the issue of jurisdiction was unclear. Local police felt they couldn't become involved, the airport being under federal jurisdiction. This delay probably helped the action succeed.
Although one cyclist was stopped very early, three others charged on as federal police gave chase then stopped their vehicles to grab them, only to see the cyclists swoop out of reach, and then the farce was repeated.
The Galaxy was forced to abort its landing and the crowd cheered. As the Galaxy circled, a second and then a third cyclist was apprehended but the fourth made it almost to the end of the runway before being stopped by police. The protest at the arrival and departure gates had continued. After the Galaxy landed and began to prepare to unload, one man ran onto the tarmac and sprayed the side of the aircraft with red paint, but was almost immediately, and roughly, arrested and charged with damage to property.
The four cyclists were also taken into custody and charged.
Photos of the demonstration made it into papers world wide: the base and the people who opposed it were, once again, for a moment, a national and international focus of attention for the anti-war movement. Bob Boughton, one of the cyclists, recalls: "We'd been there a couple of hours. Security then was nothing like it is today. We thought we'd only last a couple of minutes and assumed they'd try to ram us but they kept on trying to pull up next to us, it was a joke. And there was one officer who thought it was a hoot and wasn't really trying.
"Hal Alexander was about 50 at the time but he was still the fittest of us and he rode the longest ­ we were all smokers back then.
"We all paid our fines but Hal was a hard old communist who'd done plenty of time in jail and was curious about Alice Springs prison, so he did his time. He also wrote an article about that later." A significant effect of this action was that the security presence at both the airport and at the base was increased. This action marks the change to a new seriousness on both sides of the struggle.
The Peace Group becomes more dedicated in its research, its international networking and the frequency and intensity of its protest actions.
The response by base personnel was to increase security and to make it physically stronger.
Footage of members of the Peace Group trying to prevent trucks from entering the base by standing in front of them demonstrates this graphically: the peaceniks don't hardly move and the trucks don't hardly stop and the security guards don't hardly hold back when they throw the peaceniks around and out of the way. NEXT: The peace conference and gate protests of 1987.

Column by ANN CLOKE: Fares on Alice flights soaring high.

A first bite in The Australian "letters" section some weeks ago went something like: If there are extra Virgin flights around the country does that mean there'll be more virgin berths?
Which I thought was extremely witty. Everyone knows that Alice Springs is far superior than many other remote regional destinations. Current visitation numbers together with forward bookings show its viability. It was believed that Virgin Blue would recognise this, and with the backing of government and the lobbying by local tourism operators, the Centre would be serviced by Virgin and a bit more honesty would be brought to our skies. It was certainly a blow to learn that the prospect of Virgin Blue flying into the Centre is not as bright as it first seemed, although Maree Tetlow, newly appointed managing director of NTTC, (Alice News, April 10) says that negotiations are continuing. This is positive stuff, but we must hope it's not "all talk, no action". Along with thousands of other interested followers of the Virgin saga, I was excited, happy, then relatively depressed and am now, again hopeful EAs David says, situation normal ­ up and down like a yoyo! Everyone's gearing up for a great tourist season ­ there's such positive energy out there. Most intrepid travellers have the Red Centre on their MUST SEE list. Certainly Qantas has the routes covered and sources have promised extra charter flights, if required, to ensure convention attendees arrive on time, which is good, but it will be better if existing in-flight services are overhauled and upgraded. Steve recently flew economy class, to Sydney, a three hour trip, to attend a photographic seminar. He was handed a cardboard box, similar to a takeaway food container which he duly opened and he found (it wasn't actually lost!) a chocolate, a container of water and one cheese sandwich protected by gladwrap. It's obviously not just ordinary everyday cheese ­ it's expensive, possibly imported, because, on that particular day, the cost of a full economy return fare to Sydney was $1357.45 (a business class fare was $1806.25)! David caught the late afternoon flight to Darwin ­ he was looking forward to a long gin and tonic to complement his reading material and sandwich, but he was advised that spirits weren't available in economy class.
"I realise I have to pay for it," he said. The hostess told him that spirits were offered in business class only ­ she could sell him a beer though.
David's daughter, Miriam, who has seen all seasons in the Centre over the years, and friends, Audrey and Carolyn, first time visitors, flew in from Sydney on Sunday. An early flight, so their little snack box held a packet of cereal, a muesli bar and an orange juice. They were happy to see clear blue skies so we introduced them to Alice with a walk around the mall markets and lunch al fresco. I rang Amanda at Aurora Resorts to see if Tony has received a reply to his unique communiquE an Aboriginal deflecting shield with message, which was despatched to heads at Virgin Blue. Maybe it's the "no news is good news" syndrome?
Travellers know cut prices usually equate to "no frills", but Qantas isn't offering special deals. This is business as usual, and it's nowhere near frilly! Alice Springs needs that second airline and Qantas needs competition. It's healthy. Tim Fischer, former Deputy Prime Minister, had a brief stopover on Saturday, en route home from Darwin. One of his many roles is acting as a consultant to Deloittes. David, Eugene and Bill joined him for a coffee at the airport. Tim is bullish about regional Australia, airlines and tourism prospects, and is looking forward to returning to the Alice for Year of the Outback celebrations in September. Is it time for Alice Springs to start lobbying (again) for that elusive international airport status which Broome has had for so many years? It would certainly bring our skies back into focus.
According to the latest BRW, the (new) federal Tourism Minister, Joe Hockey, wants an integrated policy for tourism and transport. Because not all visitors wish to fly into a metropolis, there is a need for regional gateways into Australia. Darwin and Cairns each boast an international airport, and are obvious northern options.
Alice Springs, therefore, the only regional centre for hundreds of kilometres should be the nucleus, strategically located, uncluttered, gateway to the Red Centre and the rest of Australia, and a town like Alice should be recognised as a suitable site for an international airport. That would certainly solve the issue of competitor airlines: we'd have options!
If there is going to be any success in lobbying Federal Government for funding or backing of major projects, a push for international airport status for example, then 2002, the Year of the Outback is the year to do it!


In a bygone era, on the Thursday night before season's start the local football team ­ be it in the suburbs or out at Bullamakanka ­ would huddle in the change rooms after training, waiting apprehensively for the announcement of the "teams" for Saturday. The blokes would stand around, some showered, others still pretty putrid after the training session, cooling down with a beer and building energy for the coming game by munching on a pie or two. Pie nights were an institution in footy clubs. They were extremely humble affairs, with the coach having command of the airwaves, and the litany of supporters each contributing their little bit.
The power brokers were the committee: control of everything from the purse strings downwards rested with them. They dressed and behaved accordingly.
The army of training staff, dressed up in overalls, were also extremely important people as they controlled the flow of liniment; the strapping of bandages; and the distribution of fortifying fluid which kept the cold away at three quarter time on a rain swept winter's afternoon.
Then there was the sprigger, who armed with a hammer would ensure that the leather stops were appropriately attached to boots and yet not piercing the inner sole.
And at the back of the change rooms stood the swag supporters, headed up by the local publican who no doubt had supplied the keg for the pie night, and was very keen to let all and sundry know that he was the club's major backer. In the adjacent kitchen were the women's auxiliary, heating the pies in primitive warmers, and tending to a stock pot full of soup.
In the corner lay a pile of guernseys, waiting for the keeper of the apparel to gather them up, as would be done after every game of the year, and take them home for a thorough washing. The footy club was for everyone, and everyone had a job and a level of importance. Everyone was valued. Last weekend thousands of footballers and their supporters gathered at Traeger Park to participate in the annual Lightning carnival. There was an air of expectation just as in the old days. Players were prepared to give their all for their club colours.
But, as in the case of the North Eastern Warriors, a newly named team from the Harts Range area, the myriad of bread and butter jobs at the footy fell to a very few. Joe Clark is the Warriors' coach.
He is also the trainer, waterboy, first aid officer, transport controller, accommodation officer, and responsible for every administrative matter from correctly filling out the team sheets to paying for carnival registration. For an onlooker at Traeger Park it was a feast of footy over the two days. But where did these droves of entertainers and supporters sleep?
Did they eat well, or simply continue the "pie night" ritual for the whole weekend? What did they do once the game was over? How did we as a community manage this weekend (and for that matter every weekend for the rest of the season)? These are just a few of the monumental challenges we face here in Alice Springs, at the footy in 2002 While Joe Clark may be a one-man band with the Warriors, the CAFL itself is extremely light on for helpers, but the easy target for blame if and when things go wrong either on or off the ground. Unlike in the past 20 years however, it was not just a matter of rolling out the circus, collecting plenty on the gate and at the bar, then pushing on with the season proper this year. On Friday some 40 supporters of football gathered in Mona's Bar (with no beer) and for four hours looked at the big picture of football in Central Australia.
Ed Biggs from the AFL in Melbourne, Chris Natt, from AFLNT; Steve Menzies for the CAFL, Phillip Lesley of Sport and Rec, Peter Toyne and Warren Snowdon gave the forum some real punch. Rather than rambling through the issues at hand, Danny Morris as an independent facilitator gave the summit direction. While football was the focus, the bigger issues of community relationships, participation, image and management underpinned discussions. In presenting the CAFL Five Year Plan, Menzies and his executive wasted no time in declaring that the plan was a living document and designed to change according to need. The need for volunteers, as players and administrators; the suitable training of them; and the establishment of pathways, headed the agenda. To this end a working committee was formed to look at the structure of the Saturday and Sunday competitions. But bubbling away under all discussion was the problem of alcohol and its relationship to both finances and image in football.
The facilitator pushed on with the program, but eventually the point people really wanted discussed was tabled.
Most remote communities were represented as were the clubs from town and during the ensuing discussion a range of options were put forward. Again a working group was formed to report back to the summit three months down the track. The summit did not end with solutions in hand. This was never intended. However it was recognised clearly that the future of football is in our collective hands. We (the whole community) share responsibility and can no longer sweep problems under the carpet while firing bullets of blame at the CAFL or particular communities.
In four hours the summit established a communal pathway along which to travel in seeking to solve problems at hand and mould the structure of football to suit the needs of the community for whom it caters.


The Inland Sea By Barry Hill, Salt, 100 pp. Barry Hill's The Inland Sea is a love story "planting one desert in another". The poet and his bride travel from the coast to marry in the inland sea that once was and endures in the imagination, this land of "pre-historic undulations", the Central Desert. The poet articulates his love in images given him along the way ­ "One step, / on stone as pink / as your mouth," ­ but also through the inheritance of the Hebrew Songs of Songs, and through the culture that imposes itself in "this whole, central place", via Aranda songs as translated by T.G.H Strehlow. The poems are divided into four parts.
In Part One the poet addresses his beloved, very much in the tone of Song of Songs, directly quoted at the outset and then transposed to Central Australia, "in the haplessness of translation, in the hope of love". This line, together with an uncertainty in the woman's voice from the start, foreshadows the ultimate hopelessness of this marriage. The "translation" however is far from hapless.
In a trance of love the couple taste each other and the land they are in, the gorge of Yapalpa, "a place of genesis". (Later we learn that a child has been conceived, and her loss becomes the worm in the fruit ­ all those raisins, figs, apples and apricots ­ of their love.)
The fruits, milk and honey of Song of Songs find their Central Desert counterpart in the nectar of the honey ant ­ "A golden bubble / like a promise / swells behind your teeth." ­ and saturate the very rocks the lovers walk upon. This granite shows "lilac and date-coloured chips"; the river bed is "milk white"; "the baking range is a loaf of time"; "Ea wallaby sits / alert as a vow" in this place "made/ for matrimony." Why matrimony and not just passion? Because "It is laid out / in trust in time."
All of this is in the man's voice; it is the "banner of love" the woman speaks of, that he raises over her. She never addresses him. Although "limp with love", she talks of him in the third person, as if standing off, a witness to what is happening: "With his left hand he cups my head / and with his right hand / he embraces me." Later she will address her father, while continuing to talk of her lover in the third person: this father appears to stand in the way of her being able to say "you".
"Let my love come into his garden / and eat his precious fruits," she says. He does, he feasts there, while she sits "in his shade desiring".
Part Two sees the poet return, on his own but still in the thrall of love (albeit stricken) and land. He rests his "harp" in the caravan, has a "good sit down", but soon he is plucking it again: "It is so quiet you can hear the breathing leaves. / A pale lemon, like the pink, / goes on with feathery firmness: / it's nothing, the way the heavy / earth brown is slowly patched / over with a lilac / E.
The pendulum swings to the misery of being "alone all over again": "Oh it matters / it matters as much as food, as air / that we stay together. / Holy is the bird soaring / on hot winds with hope."
This yearning is honed by the land, including the beautiful "young woman tree" that he watches from the caravan: "In the full sap of night she listens. / I lie beside her / owlish and adrift. / In her composure, / those full assemblies of leaves, / all our thoughts of the day / rustle quietly, brush stars." The marriage is revisited in memory. We learn how under the Milky Way "a night meant for union had soured". It was muggy. They could hear "cattle lowering" and "a donkey's heated braying". Their love-making fails, they alienate each other, and a dingo visits, "emboldened and coal-eyed". When they frighten her off, she slinks back "to her over-licked mate and litter".
By now Hill has introduced Songs of Central Australia. He hails translator Strehlow "as celebrant", with an understanding of "the Hebrew habit of couplets". This part of the poet's / translator's craft is beautifully explained: "The lines lie parallel with each other, one arm around the other, in skilful repetition." They make "a golden braid" as they "dance down a page".
A few pages later we are treated to one:
"The great sire, proud and handsome / Burns a fiery yellow. "I am a married man, a truly married man / I am full of joy in my wife.
"I am full of love for my wife; / I am a married man, a truly married man."
The poet, for all the difference in times and culture, hears himself echoed in the voice of this Kwalba Chief. He yearns for the amplitude of the chief's state. There is a lot of circling before a kind of end is reached. Even as the poet is alone, at Babel Bore, observing camels, his wife is there ­ her hair, the scent of it, every curl. Finally in the heavy-hearted "Salts" it appears the bond has been severed. Her hair again, but this time "curling and tossed, glittering / in sea sprays of concept".
"You can have / too much of anything, from calcium / to psychotherapy," she says. Her abstractions do it: "she has gone. / Dissolved / in distance." He places her, elusive, where he knew her best ­ inland. "She has gone into / hard bright rainbow / silence of quartz country Eahead of the last vanishing /foot print E.
And the poet, where is he now? In Parts Three and Four he comes and goes between coast and inland, between the "wine of remembrance" and his new present, which is also a kind of return ­ to passion and poetry in which she had a role but was not indispensable.
Hill continues to weave Song of Songs and the Kwalba Chief couplets into the text. They unite with the poet's gifts to safeguard this love story as he imagines it (even if he can see that it was otherwise for the woman). "How is it that you feel like / A grub, and I like a butterfly / When we made the same thing?" asks the poet. " ECan we try / At least to imagine / the same stone?"
The Inland Sea is a deeply satisfying read, for its moving and complex human story and for its rich evocation of the land and cultures in which it was lived. Central Australian readers will find it particularly appealing for its abundance of beautifully wrought thoughts and images to carry with them out into country.


Major activities of the $26m a year NT Tourist Commission (NTTC) are under review by its newly appointed managing director, Maree Tetlow, and its board.
She says included are efforts to bring Virgin Blue to Alice Springs.
A local medium claimed last week that talks had collapsed but Ms Tetlow says they had "absolutely not".
She says comments by Virgin had apparently been "dramatised and perhaps taken out of context".
The bid to bring the cut-price air carrier to The Centre is "is definitely not off the table, it's very much on the table, and we're looking at ways to support the Alice Springs tourism industry to build that case".
"Negotiations are continuing".
Ms Tetlow was a senior executive for nine years with the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation (QTTC).
Although Queensland's population is about 15 times greater that the Territory's, the QTTC has a $42m budget ­ a little more than one and a half times that of its NT counterpart.
Ms Tetlow says other areas of the NTTC being examined are global sales strategies; the future of the commission's Territory Discoveries wholesale arm (both Darwin and Alice Springs); whether or not it should continue to operate from Alice Springs as well as Darwin; efforts to meet the massive demand for Aboriginal "product"; coordination of internet advertising with the booking system ­ and its long overdue upgrading.
Ms Tetlow says the review will include a "six week consultation phase, with not only the industry, but also broader community groups" closely involved.
Ms Tetlow, who replaced Tony Mayell (now working for the Australian Tourist Commission in London), during her time with the QTTC was regional tourism manager and later director of marketing.
She says Territory Discoveries is a "contentious issue, and some people have strong views".
The commission dropped its selling role in the wake of the much maligned Kennedy Report (ironically, the author was also a Queenslander), and brought in subsidies for major wholesalers to look after the smaller operators in the NT.
However, one tourism source says the project was a disaster: "The operators took the money and ran".
In order "to bridge the gaps" in products available the NTTC started Territory Discoveries in 1999, which now has an "important development role," says Ms Tetlow.
Is it likely to be discontinued?
"I'm comfortable with what Territory Discoveries is trying to achieve," she says.
"The issue of whether that is the best method of getting the distribution of that important product, and whether it's the best investment, is another question altogether."
She says one option is paying "community obligation type of fees to other wholesalers so that they would happily pick up those small operators" ­ but she is aware of the views that a similar model had failed.
Ms Tetlow says the Aboriginal tourism strategy "needs reviewing".
"If Aborigines so desire they can become more involved."
The review would look at "what consumers are looking for, and potential Aboriginal tourism product which may fill that gap.
"There is a lot of unsatisfied demand.
"People are able to look at Aboriginal art in art galleries in Alice Springs, and there are some opportunities to meet with Aboriginal people through tour guides and other experiences, but there seems to be a huge opportunity," says Ms Tetlow.
"But that will take time and people's commitment on both sides."
Inducements may include "not so much funding, although that's not out of the question, but it's more about the passing of knowledge from both sides, and about what Aboriginal communities want, and how that may fit in with the needs of visitors.
"Both side need a better grasp on what they want to achieve."
She says the commission's internet site is "successful as far as the web statistics indicate" but these deal with hits, not bookings, which at this stage cannot be made through that site.
The value of the internet site is unclear because the commission currently has no way of tracking which bookings are the result of visits to the web.
Ms Tetlow says the current Atlas reservation system is being phased out, and the commission is looking at new systems, including ones that can utilise the internet direct.
Asked whether pulling the commission's sales resources out of Asia and servicing the region from Sydney had been a good idea, Ms Tetlow says: "I don't know.
"How we service all our international markets, how well we're doing it, and the resource allocation, all that will be part of that very large strategic process."
She says international aviation services into Darwin are down 30 per cent after September 11, but the good news is that according to ABS figures, travel to Australia from the NT's major markets ­ USA and UK ­ were up four and six per cent, respectively, in February.
She says a "huge" campaign in the UK, Discover the Other Oz, is currently being mounted with SA and Qantas: 1200 requests for information had so far resulted from billboards in the London tube.
An even greater success had been a $500,000 domestic TV campaign from mid February to mid March, Outstanding Outback Offers, generating $1.5m worth of sales, not counting inquiries that may convert to bookings in the future.
However, it seems the response caught short the commission's capacity for dealing with inquiries.
Ms Tetlow says the "abandonment rate was higher than we would have liked during peak periods of the campaign" ­ people hanging up because they were sick of waiting: "We have to seriously look at how we deal with calls and with campaigns."
The review will also decide the fate of the Holiday Centre in Alice Springs. It was at first based entirely in Alice Springs, but now half of its staff of 22 has been moved to Darwin.
Rumours are rife that the office will be transferred to Darwin altogether.
Ms Tetlow says "costs, operational and servicing issues, staffing" are being considered by the board.
"Staff retention and new staff are issues but not ones that can't be overcome."


Most people's image of an injecting drug user is of someone on a one-way street to self-destruction, and likely to be caught up in a web of criminal behaviour along the way.
People closer to the coal-face can see it differently.
Darwin-based advocate Charles Roberts is one.
He has been working in the "community-based response" to HIV and other blood-borne viruses since 1986; he is an executive member of the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users' League; he is currently studying community development at NTU and working part-time as a research associate; and he's also on the NT's Taskforce on Illicit Drugs, representing the Top End Users' Forum.
The taskforce is due to report to the Minister for Health by May 31 on effective rehabilitation and prevention strategies, with a focus particularly on youth (12 to 24 year olds) and on drug-using parents of children under 12.
Mr Roberts suggests that many people who regularly inject drugs manage their habit quite well, and that many of the problems associated with the practice arise mostly out of its prohibition.
He recognises that he out on a limb with this view, "but someone has to say It".
"Society has to look at all the harms associated with drug use, not just a selection," he says.
There is not a lot known about numbers of people injecting drugs in the Territory, but Mr Roberts says it is safe to assume that it is close to the national figure of between one and two per cent (Australian Bureau of Statistics).
The 1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that the Northern Territory had:
€ the highest proportion of people aged 14 or more who have ever used any illicit drug (predominantly cannabis): 62.0 per cent versus the Australian average of 46.4 per cent;
€ the highest proportion of people with recent illicit drug use (predominantly cannabis) at 39.9 per cent versus the Australian average of 22.8 per cent. The small sample sizes in this survey meant that information regarding consumption levels of other illicit drugs in the Territory was not reliable. However, it is known ­ from a variety of sources such as cause of death and hospitalisation figures, police reports and statistics from treatment agencies ­ what type of drugs are being injected: morphine is number one in the Territory ­ as opposed to heroin nationally ­ followed by amphetamines. The prevalence of morphine may be one of the reasons why the Territory has a low overdose rate.
Morphine, even for illicit use, is usually obtained on prescription and made available in capsule form. So users know exactly how much of the drug they are injecting, in contrast to the "surprise packs" of heroin and other drugs bought on the streets.
The downside though is that the capsules contain substances to assist the absorption of morphine when it is swallowed and these ­ talc, wax, chalk­ are not very good for the user's veins. The amphetamines being injected are mostly in powder form and are often cut with substances such as sugar or salt, also not good when injected straight into the bloodstream.
These problems could be solved by legalisation and regulation.
In public health terms it's part of a spectrum of strategies called "harm reduction", which Mr Roberts argues doesn't get nearly the emphasis it should by governments nationwide.
One harm reduction measure that has made headway around the country, however, is the provision of needle and syringe exchanges.
In the Territory there are exchanges in Alice Springs and Darwin, while in Tennant Creek, Nhulunbuy and Katherine, new needles can be obtained from the local sexual health clinics.
Access to clean needles has meant that Australian injecting drug users have very low rates of HIV ­ remaining below three per cent in Australia, compared to other countries around the world with levels over 50 per cent. Mr Roberts also argues that "supply reduction" would be achieved more effectively by legalisation than by expensive law enforcement.
"If someone can sell what is worth $1 for $500, there's a big temptation to do it.
"If the drugs were no longer illicit the huge profits would disappear and the supply would drop dramatically."
So, let's say the drugs were legal and their quality controlled, would there still be major health risks to be considered?
No, says Mr Roberts: addictive drugs can be managed safely if people are sure of the quality of their product and make sure they use new needles. Manager of DASA in Alice Springs, Nick Gill ­ also on the Territory's Taskforce on Illicit Drugs and a member of the Australian National Council on Drugs ­ doesn't agree.
He says all the evidence suggests that, as with alcohol (a legal drug), about 90 per cent of users will manage their habit successfully, while some 10 per cent will be "totally out of control, with adverse effects for themselves, their families and the whole community".
He says the findings of NSW Institute of Criminology research on cannabis apply also to injecting drug use: illegality is a major deterrent to people taking it up.
Even though cannabis use is widespread, the total pool of users is reduced by its status as an illicit drug, and consequently the pool of 10 per cent of people whose use would be problematic is also reduced.
"Why legalise it and increase the size of that pool? Why would we allow ourselves to be open to this?" asks Mr Gill.
"That said, however, I do strongly feel that any problematic drug use, whether it's of alcohol, tobacco or injecting drugs, should be regarded as a social, medical and psychological problem, rather than a criminal one."
Mr Roberts argues that drug use has been around throughout human cultures; it is accepted that prohibition of alcohol didn't work; 50 years of prohibition of other drugs around the world hasn't worked either.
It's time to try a quite different approach, argues Mr Roberts: "The people working with drug users want to see them stay well, to be able to use safely and to have access to treatments."
Mr Gill says the argument for legalisation is superficially appealing, but that once you look at the people with problematic drug-taking behaviour it is less appealing. He is a strong supporter of harm reduction, but says abstinence is part of the spectrum of harm reduction strategies.
Meanwhile, treatments for injecting drug users, at least, should soon be more readily available in the Territory.
The former CLP Government famously did not support "maintenance or substitution pharmacotherapy" treatments.
The current Northern Territory Government's position is that: "Under Labor, doctors will be able to treat addicts with any pharmacological intervention approved by the Commonwealth."
The Taskforce on Illicit Drugs can be contacted by email:; or phone: 8999 2631. Website:


A report leaked to the Alice News alleges that the organisation formerly running the Aranda House youth refuge made payments that are "questionable, or of a personal nature" to two employees.
Both have now left Alice Springs, believed to be in Queensland, and an inside source says a police inquiry is under way.
One employee received four cheques totalling $18,000 and the other, one cheque for $4560.
No purpose could be found for a cash cheque for $1166.10.
Documents given to the News, reports from two accounting firms, show that all six cheques were signed in March last year by Margaret Furber, who was either the chairperson or the acting chairperson of the Central Australian Child Care Agency (CACCA) in Alice Springs.
CAACA was recently forced by a budget shortfall to close Aranda House ­ leaving dozens of "at risk" children to fend for themselves.
The News understands the shortfall was similar to the total of the payments to the ex-employees, a man and a woman.
The cheque for the woman was counter-signed by the man, and the cheques for the man, by the woman.
Ms Furber declined to comment on the matter, other than saying it is being dealt with "internally".
CAACA chairman Brian White is continuing to evade comment on the closure of Aranda House fiasco.
The accountants' reports say there is no case for paying the sums totalling $22,500 to the man and the woman because both had already been paid overtime for additional work.
Previous major funding bodies for Aranda House ­ the NT Department of Health and Aboriginal Hostels ­ withdrew their support when the budget shortfall was unable to be rectified (see recent reports in the News).
CAACA will not give details about who is funding its two remaining programs ­ foster care and a youth night patrol.
ATSIC says it is providing to CAACA in the current financial year $59,000 for the night patrol and $41,380 for the youth intervention program.
ATSIC's contribution in 2000 / 2001 was $125,500.


Of all the Pine Gap protests the 1983 Women's Peace Camp is probably the best remembered and the most controversial. SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH continues his history of the Pine Gap protests (see previous instalments in Alice News issues of Mar 20, 27 and April 3).

The Women's Peace camp attracted more than 500 women ­ some estimates say 700 ­ from around the country to the gates of Pine Gap.
They undertook various protest actions, the most dramatic the one in which 75 women were to have broken into the compound and all given themselves up under the name "Karen Silkwood" and a number (1-75).
The real Karen Silkwood was a worker on a nuclear power plant in the US who contracted radiation-related cancer and went on to expose work and safety practices at the plant in which she worked. She died under mysterious circumstances just before she was due to provide evidence against her employers, leading to suspicion of foul play.
Each "Karen Silkwood" at Pine Gap was to have had a support person who knew their name and number and could assist in getting them out of jail.
In the event, however, 111 (not 113 as we've previously reported) women invaded the compound, all gave their name as Karen Silkwood, but the support person and numbering system broke down.
Worse still, the police, who had to suddenly deal with so many women being purposefully difficult, were overwhelmed.
Police refused the women access to lawyers; it was extremely hot and the women complained that they were not getting water; some toilets in the cells became blocked; some women sang peace anthems at the top of their voices. Relations continued to deteriorate throughout the course of the evening. There was also confusion about the women's legal situation. At the time, in some states, a person could refuse to be fingerprinted, but Northern Territory legislation allowed the use of "reasonable force" in obtaining fingerprints. This confusion resulted in resistance by some women and violence by some police. Several people were hospitalised that night.
A series of Ombudsman's and other reports were subsequently written about these incidents.
The camp outraged some conservative people in town. The political satire in reaction was crude and commonly focused upon crass stereotypes of "butch" lesbianism.
The peace camp experience played a role in further developing the political consciousness of the women involved, both locals and visitors, by exposing them to different views but also by exposing them to a lived experience where those views sometimes clashed.
It resulted in organizational and personal networks that continue into the present. Some women who came as visitors stayed in town and some returned later to find work. For a number of weeks Alice Springs had been the national focus of the peace movement and the feminist movement. The peace camp had also brought land rights into the mix of issues associated with Pine Gap.
Actions by the women had been courageous, controversial and had successfully publicised the issue. But, when it all ended, the base was still there. Women for Survival, the national network who had helped organise the camp, continued to operate and held protests at Cockburn Sound the following year.
NEXT: "Galaxy versus four bicycles" ­ a humorous David versus Goliath action, or frightening and dangerous?

Column by ANN CLOKE: Another outback mystery?

"I heard what happened to Clokey!" Leonie said the other day.
"What did you hear?" I asked, and she told me, which prompted me to write my side of the story, what really took place.
On Easter Sunday, we headed with Kate and Kingy, in David's aptly named Outback, south on the bitumen for some 90 kilometres, to a sign indicating the turn-off to Rainbow Valley and a desert oak lined track, which we followed for about 22 kilometres to reach the Reserve.
The NT Tourist Commission slogan, "You'll never never know, if you never never go", rang true.
Kate (originally from Jamestown) had touched this spot before.
For Kingy, (who was born in the Alice), and David and I (who have lived here for 20 plus years), it was a first experience: the old story about travelling the world to see the sights and overlooking one right in our own backyard!
In fact, as I write, Kate and Kingy are busy packing for Mexico and other far flung exotic places. We arrived and David parked in a sandy spot, which I happened to mention, so he shifted the wagon. There was broken glass near the second area, and I suggested we find another place, which we did, nosing in, which meant no view. So then I said why not park here, but the other way around, easier to unload, better view, etc.
At that point David swung the wagon out, slammed it into reverse, backed quite quickly and hit one of about six shortish pine posts which actually remained upright and totally crumpled one corner of the rear bumper bar. Not the best way to arrive at our "off the beaten track" destination. Then David says it's my fault, when all I was doing was trying to help him find a park. I wasn't even driving!
A good thing there were so many witnesses!
We didn't have a chance to do the "post mortem" and the "if onlys" at that point, which was great. There would be plenty of time later, after we'd dropped Kate and Kingy off ...
People everywhere were setting up camp, relaxing, soaking up the landscape and enjoying a cold beer or a drop of red. One chap brought out his guitar and was strumming as the multi-coloured stripes across the sandstone cliffs deepened and darkened.
We were there for nibbles and sundowners and to see if we could commit to film the intense colours and the vibrant blood red glow of Rainbow Valley at sunset as captured by Steve (Scoop) Strike and other famous outback photographers.
Our sunset was a non-event, the sun obscured by low cloud, much to the disappointment of a couple of visitors who had carried tripods, huge lenses and other equipment out to the dry claypans (where some images show an expanse of water). We'd walked the trails, climbed around rocks, ridges, admired the rugged beauty of the James Ranges, taken a few pix and we drove off as night fell. I'd been the official navigator/gate keeper on the way in, so it was Kingy's turn to open the gate. We were driving on a narrow deeply rutted section of the track and saw lights coming towards us, which then disappeared.
Shades of Min Min in Boulia, except these weren't following, they were coming towards us, or a Wycliffe Well experience, a UFO, but they weren't hovering, they were low and definitely headlights.
When we stopped, Kingy alighted and opened the gate: we drove through and there was the vehicle, a ute complete with canvas top over the tray, lights switched off, parked off to the left on a bush trail. Our minds immediately went into overdrive: Kingy got back in the car: "I was thinking about Falconio," he said. As were we E
There's no way it could have been that utility, we concurred, that's not possible. There are thousands of people who enjoy the Outback experience, heading bush, setting up camp and sleeping under the stars, and there are tens of thousands of dirt tracks, in different states of repair, depending on how often they're used, criss-crossing our vast interior.
There's no doubt that someone with bush knowledge, off road maps, sufficient water and a long-range fuel tank could go anywhere out there.
If that's what did indeed happen. And if it isn't, will we ever know what really transpired? Will the Falconio/Lees case join other unsolved Australian outback dramas? We drove back to town talking about the anomalies surrounding the incident, voicing theories along the wayEbr>There are so many mysteries in life. At some point it's advisable to concentrate on the ones which are readily solvable in the immediate future. How does a little knock cause such a lot of damage? Why does it cost so much to replace/repair said (relatively small in the whole scheme of things) dent? Whose fault is it really? More importantly, who's paying?!
A bit of a poserEbut we'll get to the bottom of it eventually.


While the smell of liniment will pervade the town on Friday, on the eve of the Origin Lightning Carnival, a Football Summit will complement the kick off to the season.
All lovers of the gameare invited. It is a first, and could well be the foundation stone for great things to come.
The summit is an initiative of the NT Government who in pre election times recognised the significance of Traeger Park as a community sports complex, and the importance of Australian Rules to our culture.
In calling the talk fest however the Minister of Sport is not positioning himself or his agenda on the front line.
An independent facilitator will guide the forum, with the CAFL in the prime seat.
Such is the interest in the event that Ed Biggs, an AFL legend, will come up from Melbourne, and Chris Natt from the NTAFL will fly in from Darwin. All clubs, both community based and affiliates of the CAFL, have been invited and encouraged to bring with them their respective business plans for the next five years.
No doubt certain topics on the non-prescriptive agenda will stand out in the proceedings.
At competition level, we have seen the CAFL conduct League football of a Sunday, with Pioneers, Rovers and Federal having played in such games since 1947. In the last decade in particular, the communities have developed what is now recognised as the Country Competition, played of a Saturday.
Sunday football has the prestige, and supposedly is the better standard of competition. But it is the Saturday game which nowadays provides the lifeblood of the League in terms of numbers through the gate and revenue.
It is from the Saturday game also that more and more players are recruited by town sides, not just to make up the numbers, but increasingly to play dominant roles in the CAFL Sunday matches.
At home the communities see their "cream" moving to Sunday football and playing in "foreign" club colours. Naturally they want to see their talent representing their people.
A ground swell has stemmed from this, and the more professional administration of country sides, to place on the platform for discussion the future format of football in the Centre.
In lieu of the separate competitions, one proposal may be to adopt a divisional system as exists in English Football whereby the top division's bottom teams are relegated, and top sides from the second division are promoted. One competition of two divisions could be played over the two days.
The financial and social issues pertinent to the future of the game will no doubt also be points for discussion. It is no revelation to say that it is through the sale of alcohol at Traeger Park, that the CAFL coffers are kept buoyant. However with the social dilemma Centralians face in coming to grips with the abuse of alcohol, and the recent introduction of trial restrictions, it may well be a prime time at the summit to seek other ways of tackling both these fiscal and social challenges.
The summit could also touch on the development of facilities at country venues, and the possibility of games and carnivals being played at bush locations on surfaces better than a graded dirt surface, and scant changing facilities.
Then again the bread and butter issues of CAFL Clubs, the CAFL role in the context of the NTAFL, and the overall structural plan for the future of Traeger Park may get airplay.
Even before the summit begins, the mere fact that all parties have been invited to an open meeting to discuss the future of the game we love, is a giant step in the right direction. It is a positive for football and good for all people in Central Australia.
Meanwhile, when the siren sounds and the first ball bounces in the dew on Saturday morning at Traeger Park, what is believed to be the biggest Aussie Rules carnival in the land, the Origin Lightning Carnival, will have started.
The carnival which, began over a quarter of a century ago, originally gave local CAFL sides a chance to grade their players, and sides from the communities to have a run on the MCG of Central Australia.
It was in essence a fundraiser for the League, assuring the development of the game at junior level.
Today, while it is still a major fund raiser for the CAFL, the features of the carnival are the numbers it attracts from all parts of the bush, and the improvement in standards both on field and in terms of club administration.
In 2002 the carnival is a display of raw, talented football, supported with the enthusiasm of any Collingwood versus Carlton encounter.
Between 24 and 28 sides will take to Traeger, by day and under lights culminating in finals on Sunday.
Teams will come from Pipalyatjarra on the South Australian and Western Australian border; from Harts Range east towards Queensland; and the Trucking Yards at the end of Smith Street here in town.
For true believers in the game this will really be the game of "running with the ball" as it was designed.
Individuals will give of their level best; teams will be playing with community pride at stake; and at all times the ball, and possession of it, will be the focus.
Talent scouts from south will be there; locals will fill the mounds; and tourists looking for a real Centralian experience should make it a "must see" during their stay.
The carnival is the trumpet that resonates through Alice Springs and the bush, heralding the real time of the year.


Aesthetic descriptions ­ "brilliant colour, richly textured" ­ and brief outlines of Dreaming stories usually fall well short of articulating why some works by Aboriginal artists are just so affecting.
I was reflecting on this problem after previewing Art from Balgo at Gallery Gondwana, which opens this Friday.
There are some wonderful paintings amongst the 25 works curated for this show by Erica Izett, coordinator of Warlayirti Artists.
Particularly vivid in my mind are works by Bai Bai Napangarti and Elizabeth Nyumi. They have a transporting power ­ your banal surrounds drop away, you are fully engaged by the work ­ and you know that is only partly explained by the visual success of Napangarti's robust designs or of Nyumi's serene, creamy surfaces.
I found a more satisfying framework of response in an essay titled "Touching the land: Towards an aesthetic of Balgo contemporary painting" by Christine Watson.
Watson spent time with senior women in Balgo and outlying communities, researching an MA thesis on their contemporary art.
Her essay details her observations of the multi-sensual nature of mark-making in Kutjungka culture.
She notes the one word, jiri, means "marks", "names" or "songs"; that the word used for the act of painting on canvas, wakaninpa, renders it as "a matter of poking".
This, she suggests, unites painting on canvas with the traditions of sand drawing where the ground is pierced and raised in ridges ­ the shadows of which are integral to the created motif ­ or, in a more restricted form, is beaten, using a curved stick called milpa.
At sites such as Yarlurluyarturlu in The Granites, the images have been pounded into the surface of the rock.
Women's body painting sees pigments smeared over the skin.
Then there is the tough mark-making of cicatrisation on the bodies of both men and women.
With sand drawing and rock art the mark-making is in immediate contact with the earth, saturated as it is with "the bodies, power, bodily fluids and songs of ancestral beings".
Kutjungka people receive this contact through their skin, which in turn is marked, linking individuals with their "human relatives, ancestors, ceremony and land".
Watson notes the importance for Kutjungka people of being unshod, walking bare-footed on the land, and most especially dancing bare-footed, and of spending a lot of time sitting or lying on the ground.
"They, like the Warlpiri, are proud of living on the ground."
She refers to comments of an earlier observer, Father Anthony Piele in 1985, that Balgo people find it important to be "in open space so that the wind, the original breath of the Dreamtime, can penetrate their bodies and in this way nourish their breath and their spirit".
All of this integrated sensual/spiritual experience is powerfully translated in the best Balgo paintings, whose artists, Watson points out, have honed their calligraphic skills in the sand since childhood.
The viewer can see and feel the tracing, beating, striking, stamping, breath of the wind, flow of milky floodwaters, loving touch on "the skin of the ground and the skins of people". There is a physical vibrancy, a kinetic energy beyond the visual, connected to the earth and its creatures, that we are given the opportunity to apprehend through the paintings, whatever our ignorance of their full cultural significance.
Watson urges viewers to recognise Balgo paintings as a devotional art practised to retain traditional religious knowledge (as well as to obtain financial gain) and at the same time "to start feeling the paintings through the sense receptors of their skin, sensing the qualities of touch and the qualities of emotion which are recorded in the paintings, as well as using their eyes to pick out the symbols and their minds to process their interpretations."
(Watson's essay is published in Art from the Land, Dialogues with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art, eds Howard Morphy and Margo Smith Boles, University of Virginia, 1999.)


Just five months out from its scheduled dates, the Alice Springs Festival - one of the key components of Outback Central 2002 - has yet to have any funding released to it. Last week the town council knocked back direct funding of a director's position for the festival, and instead put their Outback Central contribution of $100,000 into the pot with the Federal and Territory Government contributions of, respectively, $850,000 and $500,000. This money will be distributed according to the recommendations of a community-based committee, chaired by senior public servant John Baskerville. A project officer will be appointed to assist the committee, which at this stage is meeting weekly. The three main components of Outback Central - the "premier event", as we keep being told, of the national Year of the Outback - will be a forum hosted by Desert Knowledge Australia; the Outback Expo, involving outback communities from around the country; and the Alice Springs Festival. The festival is the only one of the three that does not have the support of a permanent home base. Indeed, this year, without even a regional arts officer in place (the former officer having resigned last December and the position yet to be filled), it has had less support than it did last year. What the festival does have is an enthusiastic voluntary committee, who brought to fruition, beyond expectation, last year's diverse and vibrant inaugural event. Coordinator of that event, Sonja Maclean De Silva, engaged for four months last year, has been working without pay since the second week of January laying the groundwork for this year's event. This has included making submissions for funding, on behalf of the committee (an incorporated body, which she chairs) to the Australia Council, Festivals Australia, Arts NT, and the town council, and preparation of future submissions to Telstra and PAWA. In the absence of a regional arts officer, Ms Maclean De Silva has also supported a number of artists and community groups to develop funding proposals for events that will make up the festival's program. She is currently working on a submission to the Australia Council for support for the 2003 festival ­ it is the committee's vision that the Alice festival be an annual event. Their submission to the town council was for $100,000 to cover a 12 month director's salary and part-time administrative support, as well as a small budget to lend overall support to the events program. The council's Cultural Strategy and Plan identified an arts festival as a way of assisting "development of new niche markets, value adding industries and other opportunities" and stated that such an event should be supported from the annual budget as far back as 1999. Last year they allocated $10,150 to the inaugural festival. A further $10,000 came from Arts NT, which also offered substantial in-kind support, especially through the regional arts officer whose contribution was valued at $20,000. Arts NT's sponsorship of individual events amounted to $37,750. Local and interstate business sponsorship of the festival, generated by Ms Maclean De Silva in a matter of weeks, came to $23,000. In this Year of the Outback, just when the nation's spotlight will be on Alice Springs, council's main reason for rejecting the festival's submission, according to Mayor Fran Kilgariff, was that a full-time salary to support a 10 day event seemed "excessive". The Alice News asked Fabrizio Callafuri, full-time executive director of the Festival of Darwin for the last 10 years, now its artistic director, employed three quarter time and supported by a full-time administrator, what kind of preparation is involved in producing an annual festival. The Festival of Darwin, then the Bougainvillea Festival, won its first NT Brolga Award for excellence in tourism in 1987. In the Bicentennial year the event also won the National Tourism Award for festivals. After four consecutive Brolgas the Festival was inducted into the Brolga Hall of Fame. With a vision of becoming a cultural focus for the Arafura region and getting bigger every year, the festival now receives an operational budget of $120,000 from Arts NT, and $35,000 from Darwin City Council. On top of this the NT Government supplies it with an office and a 1200 square metre workshop space. It is then the job of the staff to raise additional funds to support the festival program, says Mr Callafuri. These come from three main sources: business and corporate sponsorship, amounting to around $80,000; Australia Council and Festivals Australia grants, which vary from around $40,000 up to $100,000, depending on a range of factors; and box office takings, which have grown to around $20,000. There are also substantial in-kind contributions, especially from the Darwin City Council's workforce. Altogether, the festival over the last five years has had an average turnover, including in-kind support, of $.5m. Says Mr Callafuri: "Whether the festival is a 10 day or three week event, at the end of the day you need someone to have their mind on the job most of the year round. "The Australia Council and Festivals Australia are the prime funding bodies for regional festivals. "They operate a range of funds, which in turn have a range of sub-categories, each of which has a separate closing date for submissions, falling in most months of the year. "Until you have your project proposals in front of you, you don't know which of these closing dates will be relevant to you." Mr Callafuri has also worked on a number of local government festivals interstate, with small budgets (under $50,000), employing a coordinator for around three months: "They have no chance of taking advantage of the funding opportunities that exist at a national level, so they can only do events that don't have a development time involved in them. "Alice Springs, like Darwin, has enormous potential to put up some good projects. "It may cost $50,000 to employ someone to coordinate it but you're guaranteed to get at least that and more back from the funding bodies. "It would be money well-spent." Meanwhile, Ms Maclean De Silva and the Alice festival committee, with an exciting program waiting to be developed, are having to hang fire. "It's so frustrating that this is happening in the year that Alice is becoming a national and international showcase," says Ms Maclean De Silva.


Alice Springs' most prominent Aboriginal owned arts and tour business has offered selected creditors 75 cents in the dollar. But manager and part owner Paul Ah Chee says the Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Centre in Todd Street is sound and he expects the sale of part of the business will end current problems. A firm of accountants, acting "within our authority as the ATSIC appointed Business Agent", said in a letter to creditors of the company's parent organisation, the Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal Corporation (PMM): "The organisation has been able to secure a limited amount of funds for the payment of creditors." And in a letter to one creditor the firm of accountants says: "At this stage PMM have constructed a list of creditors it would like to pay first, of which you are one. "Others will be paid out of expected profits of the business during the next 12 months." Mr Ah Chee says he will be seeking to resolve the impasse by splitting off the successful tour business from the gallery, and selling a 75 per cent share in it to an Adelaide based gallery. He says an offer for 55 per cent is currently on the table and he is negotiating for the balance. Mr Ah Chee says the amount owed is about $60,000 and all except one of the local creditors, to whom the 75 cents in the dollar offer has been made, have accepted it. The company is continuing trading with these companies, on a cash basis. Mr Ah Chee says the Adelaide buyer is proposing to keep open the gallery in Todd Street. Mr Ah Chee is a member of the Australian Tourism Commission. His businesses have won two NT Brolgas, one Australian Tourism Award and an international award for socially responsible eco tourism. He says the company is Alice Springs' largest private enterprise employer of Aboriginal people, with a staff of 20, 14 of whom work in the tour arm of the business. He says the company has trained about 60 Aboriginal people in the arts and tour business since 1995.


The Department of Health, one of the two major funding bodies of the Indigenous youth refuge, Aranda House, had practically no knowledge about the running of the now defunct facility. The department had an agreement to pay $101,000 a year for seven beds a day ­ or $40 a bed per day, roughly double the rate charged by backpacker accommodation in Alice Springs. Aranda House, run by the chronically troubled Central Australian Child Care Agency (CAACCA), was closed on March 19 because of cost overruns. The Alice News has received information that wages had blown out by almost $32,000 from $93,783 to $125,428 although the facility was largely staffed by volunteers. Other blowouts included $9289 for an unfair dismissal claim, and $5160 for legal fees without such expenses having been budgeted for. The building itself, in South Terrace, is leased from the Department of Correctional Services for a peppercorn rent. CAACCA chairman Brian White, despite several requests, failed to provide any comment to the News. The Health Department's head in Alice Springs, Sue Korner, says the seven beds were for children referred to the refuge by the department's Family and Children's Services (FACS), and also for "those kids who are picked up sometimes by the night patrol who fit the Œat risk' criteria". "So it's not only the referrals from FACS." Ms Korner says on average, all seven beds paid for by the department (there are about 30 in all in the refuge) were used every night, but she was unable to say how many referrals were from FACS. "I think it would be around five," she says. Are there precise records of children referred by FACS? "Probably not, we don't actually sit down and record those Enot at our end. "We are relying on the service provider end" for figures. Ms Korner says: "I have no idea what their total budget is. "Whether or not it's half a million I just don't know." She says the arrangement was purely on a fee for service basis. The department had received all it paid for, having now stopped funding after the third quarter of 2001 / 2002. "In the past we would have structured an agreement around how many staff does this employ, what does that mean in operational expenses. "We don't actually do that any more. "We negotiate up front for the service we want to purchase, Œtell us how much that's going to cost us on a daily, quarterly or annual basis'. "We don't go down to what component of this is actually going into salaries or operations," says Ms Korner. "We don't monitor it at that level." In an interview with the News Ms Korner was asked whether she had a complete picture of the refuge's operation. Ms Korner said: "It's not something that often happens. "I mean there are a lot of organisations that receive funding from various sources, and not necessarily do we all have an understanding of what exactly those contributions are." Given that her department had been referring several children a night to the refuge, would she not want to know exactly what was going on there? "Absolutely." Does she? "Do we know all the time? Not all the time, no. "That's a very valid point" for the planning of future services. (Aboriginal Hostels is now looking for a new service provider for the refuge.) Says Ms Korner: "What should a future service actually look like, how do you manage the expectations of various funding bodies, and make sure that the organisation that does provide the services doesn't have so many competing reporting demands" are issues worth looking at. "It would come back to a better coordinated approach." She says her department had not had any talks with the other major funder of the refuge, Aboriginal Hostels, which contributed $130,000 a year. However, "we were part of the meeting to discuss this issue on the March 15, 2002, when all funding bodies advised Aranda House that there would be no more supplementary funding, and again on March 20". Says Ms Korner: "There needs to be better coordination, how to help these organisations to manage the expectations of various funding bodies. This goes to the nub of the problem. "The management of these organisations would not be pulled in so many different directions. "When an organisation such as Aranda House which had been established for some time has its funding reduced, it has no option but to either close or seek alternate funding sources. "If alternate funding sources are available, it can also be a double edged sword as it means that the expectations and criteria associated with the new source of funds may not be exactly the same as previously existed. "The organisation is then required to try and meet these new requirements and this can present some internal difficulties for the organisation in trying to respond to the various needs of the funding agencies." Ms Korner says CAACCA had been required merely to provide a "standard" six monthly report. She believed ATSIC was a contributor of major funds to Aranda House but in fact the commission had withdrawn its support some two years ago when CAACCA's spending record was being questioned. The News was unable to find out whether CAACCA had implemented recommendations of an ATSIC report at the time.

Column by ANN CLOKE: Todd Mall: bricks, bats and brickbats.

Coffees, al fresco, with Francoise and Jenny chatting about life, anything and everything ELast week I was here with Stephanie, Lori and other friends, small business operators, and we talked about the mall, prior to 1987, when Todd Street boasted a single lane south/north traffic flow. It was convenient for delivery vans, street cleaning, rubbish, security and police vehicles, and there was plenty of parallel parking which made it easy for people to "pop in" to the various shops. The Todd Street traders were asked what they thought about converting their street into a mall. There were pros and cons: Many traders were against the idea, but the Council of the day pushed ahead: It was flavour of the month: malls were IN around Australia. Feasibility studies were conducted in city centres such as Adelaide, Brisbane and Townsville. Most had malls, different demographics and a greater population base then the Alice. Some traders were worried about splitting the town into three separate shopping precincts, Todd Mall, Yeperenye Centre and the Coles Complex. Others were concerned (justifiably as it transpired) that converting Todd Street into a mall might create a dirty rubbish strewn walkway through the centre of town, attract unsavoury elements and anti social behaviour in general, especially after dark. Anyway, the street was dug up and after months of dust, noise and inconvenience to traders and everyone else, we had our mall. Many locals tendered to try to become the successful contractors: consultants, planners, engineers, designers, concrete suppliers, brick-layers, landscapers, plumbers, electricians, sail-makers and builders banded together to create Todd Mall. People bought bricks at $25 each and were presented with a little certificate which states that "the certificate holder is entitled to a named brick placed in the Todd Mall", and goes on: "Todd Mall is the focal point in the very heart of Alice Springs. Two blocks of fully paved and landscaped tranquillity where locals and tourists can shop and stroll, meet and absorb the atmosphere of this unique town." False advertising or perhaps the hype of absolute optimism? Either way, it's not quite what happens, is it? Apart from Sundays, market days. Is it time to consider re-opening our mall, either all, or part of it, to traffic? It's generally agreed that where there's activity there's less likely to be anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Opening the mall up to traffic would mean better access to the town centre and might make it tougher for hooligans to create havoc after dark. It's not going to alleviate the real problem, the lawlessness of undesirables. Owners should be encouraged to convert the levels above shop fronts into housing apartments which will then attract inner city residents and extra people means extra activity, which should act as a deterrent. Then again, most people are in bed by the time the rampaging, window breaking, property invasions (sounds so much better than "break-in", doesn't it?) and hooliganism begins. Some traders have resorted to securing their premises with heavy aluminium shutters and roller doors ­ this means that after hours window shopping is out, but plate glass windows will be in tact and all stock should be in situ when they open up the next morning One proprietor, Barry, said that he's seen me, with David, strolling down the mall. (I love our mall walks!) Barry is one of many people who want the mall left alone, so that people are able to continue to enjoy al fresco dining without petrol fumes and the hazard of moving traffic: He, together with other traders, thinks that extra night patrols are needed. Do we need to follow Port Augusta's idea? Introduce enforceable curfews for anyone seen loitering on the streets after midnight. The question then is: what do we do with the offenders? It was certainly bothersome to learn (Alice News, Mar 27) that Aranda House, the youth refuge run by the Aboriginal Child Care Agency, has shut down. Residents, ratepayers, traders and others helped finance the Todd Mall project. I've spoken to friends, and between us, we "own" quite a few bricks although, according to the certificate, "that property at all times in the said brick remains with the Alice Springs Town CouncilE. Todd Mall is the focal point of our town. It should be an attractive, inviting environment for shopping, dining, movie viewing, meeting, greeting and interacting with friends and family. Brickbat, it's not. The Alice Springs Town Council owns the mall, and like any other landlord should look to the police and law enforcers for suggestions of how better to protect this property. Whether it's employing around the clock security guards who patrol the mall on foot with guard dogs, installation of security cameras (which can only be effective if offenders are prosecuted once they're apprehended) or other ideas, something must be done because current policing policies don't seem to be working: Perhaps the real issue is whose job is it to protect our properties, the owners or the police?


Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) project officer Mike Crowe says the initiative is making good progress setting up networks, but "products for sale" are still some way down the track. He says DKA's present focus is ­ € the bid, to be submitted in May, for $21m in Federal funds and commercial partnerships to set up a Cooperative Research Centre (Alice News, March 27). The application is being drafted with help from CSIRO's Mark Stafford-Smith, the interim CEO of the bid funded by CSIRO, NTU and NT Government, in conjunction with a "broad based steering committee"; a Federal government decision is likely by the end of the year; € a workshop in late August, part of the year of the Outback Expo, to develop DKA across the nation's desert areas and overseas; € and the creation of an appropriate legal entity. "This is not a traditional static model of a secondary industry producing items for sale," says Mr Crowe. "We're talking about knowledge industry. The world knowledge market. "The sorts of exports we're talking about are knowledge exports, expertise, know-how, design. How to make things work." Mr Crowe recently took a road show, including the Mayor Fran Kilgariff, and representatives from Batchelor Institute and CLC, to Pt Augusta, Broken Hill, Mt Isa, Tennant Creek and Kalgoorlie. He says: "One of the examples we gave is that solar technology is being developed outside desert Australia because that's where the industrial base is. "But the knowledge we have is how to make solar power work in highly dispersed, small communities and cattle stations, and in many cases in a cross cultural context. "That's the knowledge we're thinking of exporting. "But if you want Desert Knowledge to turn over a million dollars tomorrow you won't get it. "Out of the expertise we've identified locally [including a workshop last October] we still don't have the critical mass to address a huge contract overseas." Mr Crowe says local suppliers are "developing their expertise but they're focussing on their own back yard," with insufficient excess capacity for an international contract. "The concept of Desert Knowledge Australia, based in Alice Springs, is to bring together the providers from across desert Australia." The road show, "which has been incredibly well received", aimed at getting "people to work together across that desert region". However, there remains a chicken and egg element: why set up DKA without being certain that there will be a market for the products it will ultimately produce? Is it worth setting up an elaborate structure without knowing the commercial value of its intended output? Should not the market guide the structure of DKA? Mr Crowe says the initiative can be "supply driven or demand driven". However, there is still no comprehensive register of assets (what is it that we have for sale), nor of the national and international demand. (There other nations with significant desert living skills. Israel, for example, has managed to turn large chunks of desert into highly productive land, a task that is still eluding us.) Mr Crowe urges patience: "We're not even at that point yet," he says. "We've created a network whose strength is that it has support from indigenous and non-indigenous community groups, and is based in Central Australia. "We're at the point now that we're offering that idea, and an opportunity for partnerships to the other communities across desert Australia. "We're inviting those people to come in August to workshop how we're going to develop DKA. "In tandem with that the team is working really hard towards the May deadline for the Cooperative Research Centre bid, and in that context networks and partnerships are being created, and potential ideas are being worked through. "In the midst of all that, asking me which products we're going to have on the market next week is a little out of turn." In any case, the structure so far isn't all that elaborate. Currently DKA is driven by "one and a half people" ­ Mr Crowe full time and committee chairman Ken Johnson half time ­ with help from "government and other sources". As reported last week, recruitment is under way for a full time executive officer (NT Government funded) and a full time support person (Commonwealth funded through Regional Solutions). Says Mr Crowe: "The NT Government support for the project has meant that agencies are participating as part of their core business. "Other agencies ­ local Government, indigenous groups, Chamber of Commerce ­ are also participating as part of their core business." At this point the part of the initiative focussed on marketable "knowledge products" relies on the faith that we can produce the goods, and the world will want them. Some concrete examples are beginning to emerge: "Best practice" desert buildings is one, says Mr Crowe, with the new Centre for Remote Health nearing completion, and the Desert People's Centre on the drawing board. The latter would be part of the proposed DKA complex south of The Gap, including Yirara College, CSIRO and the Parks and Wildlife Service. Mr Crowe says there is also the argument ­ a rationale for most teaching institutions ­ that research and study may not at all times have an immediate financial reward, but in many cases will have a commercial use later on. DKA, he says, is now laying the groundwork for that, "improving the quality of life for people across desert Australia; to harness that knowledge and market it internationally, where appropriate; and to encourage people to stay in desert Australia or move here". "The whole thing is a major networking exercise, broadening the economic base of desert Australia," says Mr Crowe. As response to the road show has demonstrated, "people see it as a concept that will work. "No, there isn't yet a specific project, but ­ by God ­ there are a lot of examples of what people want to suggest. "If we're trying to do it alone in Alice Springs, we are not going to have the resources to service international markets. "No, we haven't done a market test on this, but I'm damned sure there will be work internationally, given that a third of the world's surface is desert. There will be opportunities to export that knowledge. "If you're saying I don't know exactly what house design I'm going to sell to Morocco, you're right. "But I know if we're developing expertise in arid zone building design, then that's what we'll be selling."


If there was a sporting message echoed through the streets of Alice Springs over the weekend it was the value of choice and opportunity. At the velodrome on Dalgety Road, an amalgam of juniors and masters gathered from throughout the nation to attend the National Track titles. The velodrome is recognised as one of the best outdoor cycling facilities in the land and the weather conditions in the Centre were idyllic for top times. Hence it was no surprise to see almost 200 competitors at the track over Easter. With the completion of the titles yesterday, the cyclists ventured into the true Centralian vista with the Street Sprint from the southern end of the Mall, heralding a four day feast of two wheeled road racing. Today's road racing time trials are being conducted on the Ross Highway and tomorrow at 11am the Criterium street circuit around the Council Chambers precinct will be a must see for locals and tourists. The feature of Friday's racing will be the road race to Standley Chasm. At Arunga Park on Saturday and Sunday, petrol powered chariots contested the premium event in Formula 500 racing on the dish shaped, dirt track. And at Pioneer Park the traditional power machines of competition, horses, contested a racing card including five events and catering for 50 starters. In a contrasting test of skill, at the Alice Springs Golf Club, 140 would-be champions tackled the 54 hole Alice Open. Common to each of these sports was the ability of the people of the Centre to showcase the choice and opportunity that exists within our sporting life. The Velodrome, Arunga Park, Pioneer Park and the Golf Course are all venues that are rated as being up with the best in the land, and most acceptable for elite competition. At Traeger Park and Albrecht Oval also we saw an elite competition which in seven years has matured from embryonic stage to become a firm fixture on the Australian Cricket Board's calendar. The Imparja Cup provides Indigenous cricketers from across the nation with the chance to compete, on facilities that are recognised by the Australian Cricket Board as being of international standard. Traeger Park is indeed the ACB recognised pitch in the Territory, and has catered for an increasing number of touring sides in recent times, the latest being the West Indies, eighteen months ago. At Albrecht Oval, Alice Springs boasts a purpose built cricketing facility that draws the praise of all comers, be they players or spectators. It has character and class. The Imparja Cup had a modest beginning as a challenge match between players from Tennant Creek and Alice in 1995. Even two years ago it was merely a three way challenge with players from Borrolloola joining in and coming down by bus to have a hit. Last year the Super 8 formatted challenge endeavoured to take on a more national profile with teams from interstate invited. This Easter the Imparja Cup has grown into a truly national competition catering for play at two levels. The various states enter the Imparja Cup competition, and teams from within the Territory nominate for the Imparja Shield. To see teams like Tasmania dominating in the Cup, and the Tiwi Islands, fine tuning their skills with bat and ball in the Shield is in itself an outstanding accomplishment. So serious is the ACB about the Cup that they have had their Game Development Officer Megan Smith at the games throughout the carnival. Charlie King, as Chair of NT Indigenous Sport, has been here to play and promote the Cup. And the NTCE "heavies" Ralph Weise and Bruce Walker also have been on hand. The successful conduct of this competition is vital to providing choice and opportunity to Indigenous sports people. At the upper level, the ATSIC X1 versus the Prime Minister's X1 annual match at Manuka allows for elite exposure. Many of the players from that match have been playing on Traeger and Albrecht this weekend. From a Centralian perspective the Imparja Cup allows young Indigenous players to watch the game played at top level, to adopt role models, and to develop an interest in the game. Not all people are good footballers or softballers, hence the need to offer choice and opportunity. The social capital gained for the community by developing events and opportunities like the Imparja Cup speak for themselves. Greater participation will lead to greater appreciation of self worth, and a real contribution towards the solving of many of the social challenges facing rural Australia. That elite cyclists, speedway drivers, jockeys and horses, golfers, and Indigenous cricketers gathered in Alice Springs over Easter to both play and enjoy their sport, reflects the true meaning of Easter. It engenders feelings of belief in what can be achieved. For many youngsters innocently watching it may have meant a dawning of a new direction in life, involving a blend of aspiration, determination and self-confidence.


Showcase time for the Alice Springs Turf Club is upon us with April being Cup Carnival month in the Centre. On Saturday the Easter card acted as a curtain raiser to the good times in store, with over 50 nominations received for a five event card. Indicative of the changing season at the park was the fact that Darwin gallopers appeared among the acceptances; trackside punting numbers were up; and sponsors entertained. In the lush surrounds of Pioneer Park, the Melanka Bar and Grill staff enticed all and sundry with tasty treats, the CLP hosted a party in the pavilion, while the YMCA put on a fun time for the kids in the Giddy Up Club. Even the Easter Bilby paid a visit. The Easter Egg Maiden, raced over 1100 metres attracted a field of 10. Anabel Jane, saddled up by Greg Carige, jumped from the ideal barrier five and proved too strong in the run to the line, winning by a length and a half. The 5-1 chance defeated Mr Soul at sevens who downed the fancied Racing Aces into third money by half a neck. Local hoop Terry Norton buttered up in the 1000 metre Bilby Class Four Handicap when he got Bronzed Ozzie (4-1) over the line by a short head. The win made it two in a row for the improving galloper, who outclassed the 7-1 chance Miss Janelle, with the 5-2 shot Swiftly beaten into third place by a length. The TROBIS event, the Cadbury Chocolate Class Four over 1200 metres for three year olds gave Barry Huppatz a chance to salute when he guided 6-4 starter Al Tayar to the line, a clear winner by three and a half lengths. Making a race of it for the minors were the hot to trot Norton on 10-1 chance Punk, who out gunned the well-supported Grey Desert (5-2) by a long neck. The other fancy of the sprint was Emmagh (5-2) who finished mid field. The Easter Saturday Class Six Handicap contested over 1100 metres proved to be a good thing for Darwin trainer Dick Leech, who prepared Aspen Star for the journey. The 5-1 chance prevailed by a length and a quarter over the similarly priced Bags Not, with Rockhound, also at the fives, a further length and a quarter away in third place. The feature race of the day was the Easter Handicap over 1000 metres. This attracted a field of 10, and proved to be an open betting affair. In the run to the line the Nev Connor trained, proven performer, Chalet's Magic with Brett Cornell on board, was too good on the day for stable mate St Milli, ridden by Terry Gillet. Both gallopers shared a starting price of 3-1 and raced to within half a neck of each other at the line. A length and a quarter back, 5-1 chance, Palooka (Norton) rattled on for third. Jim's Shout who attracted a lot of interest in the race, managed only fifth place. The Darwin performer Tordean, trained in the Top End by Stephen Brown, did not impress and ended close to the tail of the field. Now that the curtain has been raised, Centralians will revel in superb April racing culminating in the running of the Lasseters' Cup itself on May Day.


Feminists have made powerful contributions to the anti-bases campaigns, both in Australia at Pine Gap and in the UK, at Greenham Common and Menwith Hill (which they re-named "Womenwith Hill"). SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH continues his history of the Pine Gap protests.

The women's peace camp at Pine Gap had its antecedent in the all-women peace camp active at Greenham Common, UK, a powerful, emotive and controversial protest action that brought together the peace movement, feminism and environmentalism in exciting and thought-provoking ways. Some Alice Springs based women (no pun intended) participated in the Greenham Common camp. At the same time, a group known as "Women for Survival" was developing nationally, growing rapidly after its first meetings in Canberra in 1982. Women all over the country formed and joined local branches (although there was no formal membership). Organisers from this group approached women in Alice Springs with the proposal to stage a protest camp at Pine Gap. Among their other tasks, local women were asked to provide an interface between visiting women and local Aboriginal politics. They were also asked to deal with practical matters such as permission to camp on the land and sacred sites concerns and to investigate the possibility of local Aboriginal women participating in the protest. In 1983, two months before the protest camp was to begin, two national organizers, one of whom had worked on the Greenham Common camp, came to Alice Springs to assist. Pam Ditton, a lawyer now based in NSW, was involved with the organizing in Alice Springs. She recalls: "We tried very hard to do that [the liaison with Aboriginal women] properly and I think we achieved a great deal. "It is the protest that had the strongest Aboriginal involvement of any I can recall [concerning the Pine Gap issue]. "In consulting with Aboriginal traditional owners of the Pine Gap area we discovered that they were violently opposed to the base on three grounds. "It closed off significant places. "And there was the Maralinga connection, so they considered it to be a dangerous place and fully expected that there would be bombs dropped on it. "They thought Americans should play war-games in their own country. "They were not necessarily interested in protesting, however. Although they eventually decided to participate in the opening march they decided not to camp out. "The Pitjantjatjara women were prevented from arriving in time for the march by rain, but they arrived later and were incredibly strong in their support. They arrived in time for the court hearings following the ŒKaren Silkwood' mass arrests and held a Œpray-in' in the court foyer, which caused some cultural confusion. "There were also Aboriginal people from other states, and that caused some cultural confusion, as did the issue of Aboriginal men and their role in the issue and the protest. "Negotiating the race and gender politics was very difficult for local women. The debates around whether men could participate or assist in the protest were passionate and sometimes hurtful. "I think they were debates we had to have, however, and I think the issue was formative for many women in town, and for women all around Australia." Jenny Green, a linguist, was also involved at the time and recalls the event in similar terms: "Mostly I remember watching the complicated politics of race and gender, and in some instances being in the middle of heated debates. "Some women felt like they had to choose between feminism and anti-racism. It was a difficult learning experience for many women. "I think some people were really struggling with the realisation that the issues were a whole lot more complicated than they had previously thought and that they were broad community issues, not only gender issues." NEXT: 113 Karen Silkwoods!


Friends of Iris Harvey did not want her 85th birthday to go unnoticed, so at 3pm last Wednesday, March 27, a small group gathered at her Todd Street premises, Arunta Art Gallery and Bookshop, to surprise Mrs Harvey with a cake, a good Australian pavlova, and birthday cheer. Mrs Harvey represents a slice of Alice Springs history as she has operated her shop for more than 44 years. Not only does she stock many books about Central Australia, some now out of print, but also carries a range of art supplies and has helped numerous artists over the years in many ways. Indeed in the midst of the birthday celebrations, she took time out to tell some young artists looking over her range of art supplies that she had received some information on a fast drying oil paint. Conversation ranged from times gone by in Alice to day-to-day chatter among people interested in getting to know one another better. Trying to find common ground, Mrs Harvey commented on what a wonderful job young signwriters at the time George Scott Brown and Ralph Peverill of CASAS signs had done in designing a logo which won her awards and which Mrs Harvey still has on some of her paper bags. All too soon the festivities and reminiscing ended, but for one brief moment one had a chance to feel part of what has given Alice Springs its reputation for being special and why Nevil Shute called his book, "A Town Like Alice".


The NT Government will soon appoint a new head - likely to have a strong business background - for the Alice Springs based Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). A key participant in the scheme, the local Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), is a partner in a $24m venture that will bring renewable energy systems to bush communities in the NT, WA, SA and Queensland. And one of DKA's four initiatives, a Co-operative Research Centre, headed up by a former senior executive in the mining industry, is seeking $14m of Commonwealth funding over seven years (see report page 3). These and other developments are set to shift Desert Knowledge into top gear. It was taken off the back burner last year by the new Territory government with an immediate commitment of $10m for a Desert Peoples' Centre. It is proposed to bring together in one location CAT, Batchelor College and the Institute for Aboriginal Development, although the latter is going through a serious crisis, and has indicated in the past that it may not move from its present location in South Terrace. CAT's major commercial coup has been in the making for some six years, says the centre's Bruce Walker. Codenamed Bushlight the project is a joint venture between the Alice based research, innovation and training organisation, which over the years has built up a string of clients in several parts of the world, and the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy. Dr Walker says the $24m, four state project, to be managed from Alice Springs, will involve the manufacture of $16m worth of hardware, some or all of which will be built here. "It depends on whoever wins the tenders," says Dr Walker. He says Desert Knowledge has the chance of attracting to Alice Springs "a critical mass of people who are 21st century thinkers". Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says Desert Knowledge has become a major priority for him. Before being elected to Parliament he was the driving force behind the pioneering Tanami Network, a satellite-based video and audio communications network spanning the outback. "Currently, desert areas around the world import most of their technology from temperate regions, resulting in inappropriate or at least not the best possible architecture, horticulture, transport systems, water usage, service delivery and so on. "Desert Knowledge will enable us to not only bring together resources to get the best answers to the problems of living in desert environments, but to capitalise on these and sell them to the rest of the world. "Services are an increasingly important part of today's economy. "For example people who have worked on remote communities in Australia are snapped up by overseas aid agencies because of their unique skills," says Dr Toyne. "Why not sell our intellectual capital in this area, through development and sale of community and business management courses?" The CLP's John Elferink, who like Dr Toyne represents a vast bush electorate (MacDonnell), says Desert Knowledge will be an "unstoppable giant" if issues of Aboriginal land rights and native title can be resolved. "Investors tend to ask one simple question which is, can I get security of tenure on the parcel of land in question," says Mr Elferink. "If the answer is not an unequivocal yes, the eyes glaze over and they're not interested. "If you're serious about investment then don't expect to see it come with a social agenda in mind. Desert Knowledge is about investment for all stakeholders. "What is the purpose of it if it's not to generate wealth in the Centre?" asks Mr Elferink. "If we want to be smart desert dwellers then we need to make the place investor friendly, and security of title over a lease is fundamental." Mr Elferink says a second necessity is the lifting of the work ethic in the bush. He calls for CDEP participation to be made compulsory for people in remote communities wanting to receive welfare payments. "Once the relationship between work and wealth is established, it is not a great leap of faith to expect land owners to seek to increase their wealth from their own resources, that is from their land."


"Considerable improvement" is needed in mechanisms and organisations for setting up enterprises on Aboriginal land. This is likely to be a focus for the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), one of the four initiatives of Desert Knowledge Australia. So says the CRC chairman elect Paul Wand, a former senior executive of mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd (formerly CRA), and the originator of that company's Aboriginal Foundation which he still chairs. Mr Wand says the future of the CRC depends on the success of a bid, to be submitted at the end of May, for Commonwealth support to the tune of $14m over seven years. He says the group will have a small board of directors, most of them Territory based, as well as an executive officer with a staff of around two, headquartered in Alice Springs. The group will administer and award grants for research activities, publish the findings, and "market the products of such research activities in the area of desert knowledge". Mr Wand says these products ­ depending on the research applications received ­ will be in four areas: natural resource management, service delivery, governance and infrastructure. The studies will all be undertaken in the vast desert areas of Australia, and potentially of interest to the billion people inhabiting the deserts making up one third of the world's land mass. For example, Mr Wand says, "the estate of flora and fauna needs to be understood more completely" to be preserved, looking not only at the damage done but also "the understanding achieved" by primary production in arid areas. Other subjects are likely to be modern communication and transport methods applicable to small population groupings. CSIRO and the Alice based Centre for Appropriate Technology, as well as universities in the NT, southern and western states, have already shown interest. "Some 70 areas of research emerged very quickly when the CRC was first advertised earlier this year," says Mr Wand. The initiative will aim for partnerships and endorsement from industries such as trucking, air and rail transport, mining and telecommunications. Mr Wand is a graduate metallurgist, and has worked in manufacturing, copper smelting and aluminium fabrication. For five years he ran CRA's management training and later became managing director of one of the company's business units. He was managing director of the company's headquarters group concerned with Aboriginal relations, "charged with changing the direction of the company with respect to Aboriginal people in Australia, to move away from any confrontationist attitudes in areas of accommodation and understanding." In 2000 he advised the Federal workplace relations department on programs involving larger companies. Mr Wand says the CRC ­ if it gets off the ground ­ will have the objective of "corralling research work under one banner, focussing work currently being done, under consideration, or required by private enterprise." This could range from mine rehabilitation to Aboriginal "governance, an area of great neglect" ­ an issue recently brought into the spotlight by several public figures, including Territory Minister John Ah Kit.

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA: The dead hand of bureaucracy?

Will Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) produce commercially saleable products? If so, what are they? What is their value? Where are the markets? How many desert knowledge products, if any, have been sold to date (other than those from the Centre for Appropriate Technology and CSIRO, who have done so independently for years)? These, one would imagine, are reasonable questions for the people who want to be major players in the economic development of Central Australia. Yet neither Ken Johnson, heading up Alice in Ten, nor Mike Crow, in charge of DKA, both career public servants, appear willing to give us a reply of substance. That's why it's refreshing to hear that two years since their inception, these vital initiatives seem set to be taken out of the hands of bureaucrats. Surely, if the public is to be fired up about these concepts it needs to be informed. Yet all we're getting from Dr Johnson and Mr Crow are pretty brochures containing gems such as this: "DKA will be part of a matrix structure that encourages key relationships and partnerships." Wow. If I hear one more time "Desert Knowledge has a huge potential" I'll scream. We want to see runs on the board, and some transparency in the process which, after all, is meant to enthuse the public and fill them with desire to participate. We also have an image problem which DKA doesn't appear to be addressing. We can't crow about being smart desert dwellers, at least not at this stage: The water wastage through our sewage system is scandalous; there's very little solar energy use (mainly hot water systems) in Alice Springs; our suburbs look like any other in Australia; our answer to social problems in our Aboriginal population has been to throw vast amounts of money at them, with decreasing accomplishments; half the bush is used for raising cattle with controversial consequences for the environment. The other half ­ Aboriginal owned ­ is an economic disaster zone despite the massive potential for tourism, horticulture and other ventures. On the other hand we do have pockets of outstanding achievement. These assets include people with expert knowledge and experience like botanist Peter Latz. We have aviation, road transport and communications pioneers coping with vast distances and a hostile environment. We have architects devoting their lives to developing buildings suitable to our climate. We have pastoralists who have found ways to adapt cattle production to the delicate environment. We have horticulturalists doing the same thing. And there are a handful of examples of successful collaboration between a modern society and an ancient culture. Why is DKA not selling more of that knowledge right now, after two years of talk fests? Just some anecdotal snapshots:- I believe a Federal grant of $50,000 is being obtained for a coordinator. What will he or she be coordinating that already participating organisations (the NT Government, town council, the Central Land Council, Chamber of Commerce, CATIA, etc.), given their local knowledge and considerable personnel and financial resources, couldn't coordinate themselves? I understand a "study group" recently travelled to other remote centres. How much did that cost and what was leaned that couldn't have been learned by making a few phone calls? No answers from Dr Johnson nor Mr Crowe. We asked Mr Crowe for a copy of the discussion paper on DKA by Prof Dick Blandy. We were told our request would be taken on notice. Why is that paper not readily and immediately available? Instead of being innovative with DKA, aren't we going down the worn old path of yet another bureaucracy focussed on obtaining funds, writing reports and leaving the community in the dark?


"One of the boldest tourism initiatives in the Year of the Outback 2002 is already a resounding success - even before it opens its doors." This is the confident claim by the publicity machine for the Alice Convention Centre, due to have its first fixture this month and the official opening in May. Director of Marketing Lynne Jackson says 15,000 delegates have already booked for 2002, a number she describes as "outstanding". But given that the $14m centre, $10m of which came from the NT Government, has a capacity of 1700 seats, the bookings in hand ­ assuming each delegate will stay the expected 2.5 days ­ represents a usage of less than eight per cent. On present bookings the facility will be "full" for 12 days of the nine remaining months this year. To be full the Lasseters Casino operated centre would need another 168,600 bookings. Industry experts say the facility is likely to do best during its first two years when it can capitalize on its novelty value, attracting conventions which have "done" most other Australian venues (Alice News April 11, 2001, and our web site). Another open question is the airline capacity. Will Qantas, currently the sole operator here, be able to fly in 1700 delegates ­ or 3400 if they all bring their partners ­ and out again two and a half days later? Ms Jackson says Qantas is "fairly confident that they could assist if they are given enough notice. "There are a range of things they can do including increased plane size, back to clock activity, charter and so on. "Because of our location, most of our bookings are national which means delegates come from all areas. "This tends to make it a lot easier for the airline to bring people in." Ms Jackson says bookings so far are for 400 to 600 delegates, 90 per cent of them from Australia. The centre will become the property of the casino company, Ford Dynasty, in 20 years' time. Until then there is a pledge by the NT Government, entered into before the CLP lost power last year, for operating subsidies of up to $5m. Ms Jackson did not disclose the formula for this subsidy, but she says if the facility makes a profit, Lasseters and the government will "split" it. Lasseters Hotel Casino is clearly confident that the centre will bring in extra trade, spending $20 million of its own money to nearly double the number of "top quality rooms" to 140. Ms Jackson says another 440 rooms are available within walking distance in other hotels. "We estimate, based on a stay of 2.5 days per person, that the centre will contribute an additional $6.7million to the Alice Springs community next year alone," she says. The centre will cater for 1200 people theatre-style or 780 banquet-style in the main function room, the MacDonnell room, with up to an additional 500 in the Ellery Room. A major event this year will be Outback Central 2002 in September.


The Aboriginal Child Care Agency (ACCA) is mum on the reasons for shutting down Aranda House, the youth refuge in South Terrace. The Alice News has put a number of questions to ACCA's Anne Ronberg, who said chairman Brian White would respond, but he did not. According to sources ACCA will be continuing to run a youth night patrol ­ but apparently there is now no place for it to take the children to. The News understands there will be discussions with Anglicare (which runs St Mary's) and Alice Springs Youth Accommodation Services (ASYASS), but there are no results to date. Jim Holland, director of Anglicare in Central Australia, says St Mary's has a house in Forrest Crescent where the Department of Family and Children's Services refers children, but it is for "long term accommodation". ASYASS acting manager Astri Baker says her organisation does not normally cater for children younger than 15. Although Aranda House has been in crisis off and on for some years, it has continued to be funded. The NT Department of Health and Community Services kicked in about $100,000 a year and the Federal instrumentality Aboriginal Hostels Ltd, $128,000 this financial year. The News reported last week that Aboriginal Hostels are now seeking another operator for the service, and that they had withdrawn funding as a result of ACCA's "poor budget management". At the time of going to press, the Department of Health had not provided answers to our questions. Another complication of the whole scenario is that ACCA holds the lease over Aranda House, which is owned by the NT Department of Correctional Services.


Alice Springs native title holders, who have the power to unlock an estimated 500 building blocks in Alice Springs, have held the first annual general meeting of their "body corporate". The Central Land Council, which is the approved body dealing with native title issues in the town, declined to provide information. However, one of the native title holders, who has asked not to be named, says the group consists of 30 people, 10 each from the three major family groups relating to Undoolya, Ilpma (Bond Springs) and Mbantua (Alice Springs). The native title holder says the group has drawn up a constitution which is in the process of being registered.

Column by ANN CLOKE: Expert opinion.

"I think it's better when you write about people," I was told. "Last week's column was okay, but you didn't refer to anyone I know!" "Do we get a mention this week?" Craig asked, when I popped out to Builder Auctions: "I thought you'd write about exotic Indonesian food and fun out home with everyone last week." Ian, Francoise, Carolyn, Neville, Cynthia, Wally, John, Tina, dogs, guinea fowls, horses and the rest of the menagerie Ethe "farm", affectionately known as the Hilton on Todd. It was a great night ­ animated conversation, especially when David and John went head to head as comparisons were made regarding the state of play in Zimbabwe and happenings in Australia, Alice Springs in particular. I'm not alluding to international cricket matches: these were social issues and political agendas and trying to debate and resolve them over a glass of red. David lived in Central Africa for 20 years, and his opinions are always pragmatic and usually informed. Our thoughts have been with dear friends who live in Zimbabwe, wondering what the next six years under Robert Mugabe's rule will bring. Africans, white and black, have been disenfranchised, which means they have lost their right to vote. Many have also lost their rights of ownership ­ second, third and fourth generation Zimbabweans are being evicted from their homes and farms. There is no talk of compulsory acquisition or compensation: they are being forced to leave their homeland with nothing ­ no chattels, heirlooms or personal possessions. The Zimbabwe dollar is worth nothing outside Zim. It only just manages to function in this magnificent country, Zimbabwe. The world is still looking in, criticising, judging and trying to determine whether the Commonwealth's decision to suspend Zim from meetings for the next 12 months is appropriate action. Meanwhile the violence, home invasions, trespass and killings continue. What causes societies to crumble, cultures to disappear, infrastructures to break down and civilisations to vanish? I rang Denise Williams-Kennedy and offered congratulations: she is recipient of a National Excellence in Teaching Award (Weekend Oz 23/24 March: "Building Future Against the Odds"). Denise was born here and grew up in one of the town camps. She attended school, graduated from university and is a dedicated early childhood teacher who readily accepts the challenge of teaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Denise is aiming to introduce a "culture of learning and schooling" to pre-school students when she returns after a year's study leave to the classroom at Yipirinya School where she has taught for the past eight years: Denise believes that education is the key to a brighter future. It's uplifting to read "good news" stories especially when they're local: I lunched with Lori, Stephanie and Julie and we sat observing the cultural differences being enacted under the sails. "Why aren't the kids at school?" a visitor asked, as we watched juveniles sky-larking, loitering, asking something of a passer-by, a cigarette, a dollar, the time? Until we start treating everyone in the same way, equally, and school attendance is compulsory for every child, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and all children are actively encouraged to learn, believing that there is merit in education, there will be no noticeable change in behaviour. The gap in society, wealth, well-being and wisdom is getting wider, deeper and almost impossible to span. It is accepted that one of the first steps towards bridging this gap is education Minister John Ah Kit's recent speech to Parliament regarding the plight of Aborigines living in dysfunctional communities throughout the NT caused much reaction. We have to hope that there is positive follow-up and action Esoon!

LETTERS: Ex-Senator slams Snowdon.

Sir,- I had thought that Warren Snowdon MHR had grown up in recent years, and was taking a more mature approach to his representation of the people of the Lingiari electorate in Federal Parliament. However, he has confounded, disappointed and dismayed me by calling into question the arrangements under which Pine Gap operates (Alice Springs News, March 13). Pine Gap is fundamental to Australian defence. It is a bastion of world peace, and a foundation stone of the Alice Springs economy. This is not just my view ­ it is the view of the former Prime Minister Bob Hawke as expressed in Parliament on November 22, 1988, when Mr Snowdon sat behind Mr Hawke and supported him. Mr Hawke said, "The Joint Defence facilities will continue to serve Australia's national interest; they will continue to reflect the depth and substance of our bilateral strategic relationship with the United States under ANZUS; and they will continue to play a vital role in preventing nuclear war." Mr Hawke's eminently sensible statement was warmly endorsed by John Howard MHR, the leader of the Opposition. Mr Hawke and Mr Howard were treating the matter on a bipartisan basis, to preserve the sensible and cordial relationship between Australia and the United States on defence matters. Now Mr Snowdon threatens that bipartisan arrangement. He is clearly a maverick voice on this issue. Conspicuously, he is disowned by his Federal party leader and he embarrasses his party colleague, the Northern Territory's Chief Minister. Mr Snowdon's views would not matter, except that he is the MHR for the area in which Pine Gap is sited. His views could thus be taken, in the United States and other places where our representational system may not be perfectly understood, as being of some consequence and as having some support. That would be tragically erroneous. Mr Snowdon's views gain further exposure when he facilitates meetings and gatherings of people who come to Alice Springs to protest about the base. Inevitably the protests receive more exposure than they warrant, and inevitably Mr Snowdon's association with them lends the protest some credibility. Our United States guests resident in this town must sometimes wonder how it is that a member of a major party can thumb his nose at his party's commitment to the present Pine Gap arrangements. The many Australians who work at Pine Gap must also wonder why their livelihoods are put at risk in this way. Let those who wonder be assured that Mr Snowdon does not represent a significant body of opinion on this issue. The overwhelming majority of Australians are solidly behind the arrangements. This is confirmed by the repeated public statements of the leaders of Mr Snowdon's own party, and by the leaders of the other major parties. Recent international events have clearly confirmed that the United States partnership is essential to our security. Pine Gap now has an even more vital role in preventing nuclear war than it had at the time of Mr Hawke's 1988 statement. If Mr Snowdon cannot accept his party's unshakeable policy on the Joint Defence bases, then he should not have the temerity to seek and accept ALP endorsement for Lingiari, nor should he tell his constituency that he represents the Labor Party. I do not put this forward in any partisan spirit, or with any intention of criticising Mr Snowdon's party, which in fact has adopted the only sensible position on the Pine Gap issue. However, I cannot remain silent when Mr Snowdon, as an individual, puts at risk the security of my country, his country. Incidentally, as I write this on March 17 it is exactly 60 years to the day since General Douglas MacArthur landed at Batchelor and then passed through Alice Springs on his way to Melbourne to take over the defence of Australia. I was then a young soldier, in training to help meet the most terrible emergency Australia has ever confronted. I well remember just how pleased Australians were to welcome MacArthur and his fellow Americans during those desperate days of early 1942. Mr Snowdon should take a history lesson. Through it, he might learn who the friends of his country really are.
Bern Kilgariff
Alice Springs

Sir,- I am writing regarding "CLP responds to Ah Kit plea" in the Alice Springs News of March 20. In the article you reproduced an anecdote that I told Parliament about the differences in Aboriginal cultures. Indeed in my electorate alone there are a number of different and independent cultures. I used this anecdote to demonstrate the point that it is very difficult to make general rules for a class of people when they are culturally different from each other. I asserted then as I do now that the only people who can protect their cultures are the people who have custody of them. This means that I am unqualified to speak for any culture other than my own, as is Mr Ah Kit. The only people who can protect Warlpiri culture are the Warlpiri custodians. The same is true for Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara or Pintubi. As a legislator it is my duty to create a framework in which these custodians can decide for themselves what is worth protecting and what is not. It was with these thoughts in mind that I suggested that in a free country people who own land should be able to deal with the land as they see fit. Mr Ah Kit in his response suggested that all I wanted to see was Aborginal people sell their land. This is not true. I want Aboriginal people to enjoy the liberties that all Australians enjoy. I have found people in my electorate as diverse in their opinions as people who live in Alice Springs. I have asked Aboriginal people over the years what they would do if they could sell their land. Some have reacted cautiously, others thought the idea laughable, still others dismissed the idea as unthinkable and some said that there were parts of their land that they would part with to raise capital for development. I would expect a similar result from people living in Alice Springs. The difference is that if you live in Alice Springs or any other part of Australia you have a choice. If you live on a land trust you do not have a choice. What I believe in is the power and freedom to choose. Mr Ah Kit's assertion that he is the voice of collective Aboriginal consciousness on the matter is no more sustainable than me asserting that I represent the opinions of all Alice Springs residents. I would believe that people who live in Alice Springs would want me out of their affairs, especially in terms of their land title.
John Elferink MLA
Alice Springs

Sir,- Alice Springs ­ the land of missed opportunity. I wish David Cloke and his group the very best in their endeavours to have the freight rail terminal moved. If he succeeds, the area should be called Cloke Park ­ he will deserve it. Some 25 years ago the rail was upgraded from narrow gauge to standard, when a Mr Smith was the Rail Commissioner. At that time I with some others (not politically affiliated people) organised a petition to Parliament signed by some 3000 Alice residents to have the whole rail complex relocated outside the Gap. A sketch was provided of a freight terminal in the vicinity of St Mary's and a passenger pickup spur line through the Gap to a period style terminal running parallel with Bloomfield Street and Telegraph Terrace. We proposed that the huge land tract made available could be utilised for the planned expansion of the town. Surprise, surprise ­ Mr Smith objected, the politicians did nothing, and some notable luminaries of the Alice Springs scene rallied in opposition. They ran a counter claim that we would all suffer horrendous extra freight costs for milk and fruit. Following this outcry by some in business Mr Smith conveniently called it as "the town divided on the issue" and redeveloped the passenger and freight terminals were they currently remain. The result was that we lost the opportunity for a period passenger terminal and suffered the Billygoat Hill rail crossover. Worse ­ what could have become a great landscaped central area still remains a dirty hole and a blight on the town. A check of the papers of the time will confirm my story and identify opponents Ebest wishes, David.
Danny Kilgariff

Sir,- Soon a social experiment in Alice Springs will begin when alcohol restriction are introduced next month. And what more apt day to start than on April Fools day? How has it come to this and why is there so much avoidance of the real issues? This letter will uncover some of these issues. As a taxi driver here in Alice I have a certain perspective; and as a student who has completed the four Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) units, sponsored by Living with Alcohol, at NTU, I have some academic knowledge about the subject. As an ex-drinker and someone who has attended AA meetings in many countries between NZ, USA and Eastern Europe I have an added experiential understanding. It is my belief that the present situation in Alice has been caused by the failure of the Territory Health's Living with Alcohol (LWA) program to effectively deal with excessive drinking. The upcoming restrictions on alcohol sales in my opinion must be an admission that their policies have failed. Even though the LWA initiative has been hailed nation wide as a model of success there has been no actual decrease in amount of alcohol consumed in the Territory. The Northern Territory Health Services have won a special award for fives years in a row as the top performer in the area of "government performance in terms of policy directions, commitment to addressing substance problems and provision of support services" (Annual Report 1998/9). Despite this, the consumption of alcohol still remains at the same levels in comparison to the Australian average. It might seem anomalous that with all this hard work total consumption figures can't be (haven't been) reduced. And it seems entirely unethical that special awards are even accepted when nothing really has changed. A Curtin University statistical graph shows how since the inception of Harm Minimisation strategies, which is what LWA revolves around, the overall NT alcohol consumption figures have levelled out and are not going down. Before HM the graph showed a year-by-year decrease in consumption. The liquor industry may well be pleased with this trend. HM has not always been an easy idea to define and may often mean different things to different people: "The pluralism that HM has fostered may be one of its greatest limitations" (Lintzeris 1998). For instance, health workers may embrace HM approaches whereas Aboriginal alcohol and other drug treatment facility workers may see them as a blockage to government funding (government agencies being less likely to fund abstinence based programs, [Brady 1991]). HM is often promoted in a rather odd fashion. From the Public Health perspective it is said to be more cost effective to target primary and secondary prevention strategies rather than "provide treatment for those with existing problems" (Rumbold & Hamilton 1998). A report by the National Health and Medical Research Council (1987) states that, "The majority of the alcohol related problems are not caused by the sub-population of the heaviest drinkers, but by the majority of the population, those who are normal drinkers or social drinkers, simply because of their numbers". This approach does not seem to have very much simple common sense and problem drinkers do not even seem to figure at all in this equation. It almost seems like it is a more popular political rationale to spend money on the majority of the voting public than the unpopular bottom of the barrel drunk. All this flies in the face of strong evidence that alcoholics should not attempt or be encouraged to drink in moderation. "Light drinking (moderation) is not beneficial for alcoholics." (Sison 2000). Studies show that "light and moderate drinkers are different people than abstainers and heavy drinkers". The terms "alcoholic" and "heavy drinker" are used interchangeably here. From the research findings it must be logical to deduce that "moderation" is a fruitless and dangerous message to offer to abstainers and heavy drinkers/alcoholics because of the health risk. And anyway, it is highly probable that heavy drinkers cause a much greater associative damage compared with responsible drinkers even if the HM propagandists would like to twist it another way. The smoking lobby has developed a "quit" program nation-wide but where alcohol is concerned such an approach is not an option it seems. Workers who labour in the anti-smoking field must be non-smokers and those who have quit. Not enough value is placed by government agencies upon the value of not drinking or of non drinkers working in the field. Maybe this is because a majority of health workers are drinkers and it might be appear impracticable to expect them to stop drinking as an example for clients; such is the ambiguity. It also has a bizarre result that people trying to get into the field who don't drink have a significant barrier to overcome. The drinking AOD workers will feel uncomfortable working alongside non-drinkers.
Kenny Woolrich
Alice Springs


To what avail is the monitoring of the billions of telephone, fax and email communications, the vast majority from and to innocent citizens, in which Pine Gap is believed to be taking part? Is it a case of the door with the new lock keeping out honest people, but the burglar knows how to pick that lock? Or can anyone walk in, new lock or no new lock? As Tom Vanderbilt writes in the London Review of Books of March 7, reviewing new works about the super secret US National Security Agency "which has office space equivalent to eleven World Trade Centres", information is collected in enormous quantities "but very little is put to any purpose, nefarious or beneficial; there are simply too many facts and too few people to process them". The World Trade Centre slaughter may be as much an argument for more space base style snooping, as for less. Writes Vanderbilt: "The men of 11 September stayed at Motel 6, shopped at WalMart, went to strip clubs. They moved quite comfortably in the mainstream of American life: "They also conformed to the classic casting of mass murderers ­ 'quiet, kept to himself'. The highjackers drove without proper licences, violated immigration rules, left a plane sitting on an active runway and developed the unmarketable skill of knowing only how to make turns with a jumbo jet, not how to land it. Their car renting histories have been tracked; we even know that one of them rented an adult film on motel pay-per-view. "Atta's driver's licence may not have been in order but there were some 200,000 outstanding traffic warrants in Broward County." Meanwhile, as plans continue to stage a national protest this October at the gates of Pine Gap, we present our second instalment of SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH's history of the Pine Gap protests of the Œeighties. Mr Campbell-Smith is an anti-militarisation activist and a resident of Alice Springs.

To spy or not to spy may be the question now, but it was a long time before Australians became aware that spying was indeed the purpose of the facility at Pine Gap. Construction began with a mysterious bitumen road built in 1966. Local people were told it was for the bore-field but it continued straight past that area and into the scrub. Initial construction was complete by 1968 and the base was at least partly operational by 1969. In its early years the facility was said to be a weather station. Some time in the early Œseventies the official cover became "Space Research Centre". In 1975, however, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam revealed that the head of the CIA, Richard Starlings, had played an important role in setting up Pine Gap and had made significant financial contributions to the National Party. Whitlam further threatened not to renew the lease agreement unless Australia was given a fuller participation in its operations and the intelligence it collected. In 1977 an American, Christopher Boyce, was tried for selling secrets to the Russians and testified that, during his time working there, the Pine Gap facility had regularly monitored Whitlam and other Australians. This is the backdrop to the local story, which begins in the mid-seventies. In 1976-77 Philip Nitschke, who later became a medical doctor known for his voluntary euthanasia activism, was working as a ranger at Simpson's Gap and as caretaker for the Temple Bar Caravan Park. He recalls: "You could get a really good view of the base from the top of the hill [at Temple Bar] and I had an almost continuous stream of people who wanted to have a look, so I was more or less doing tours up to the same spot on top of the hill. "That's really where my interest started, it grew into a sort of informal monitoring of the place. "Des Ball [currently Head of Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU] had just finished his book, A Suitable Piece of Real Estate, and I got in contact with him. "I'd ring him up and say things like, ŒThey've started building this thing and what do you think that might be?'. "That was when we formed the group ŒConcerned Citizens of Alice Springs'. "At that stage it was all about getting people to consider the issue and we did put out a newsletter. I was running around trying to get people around town, who were already much too busy with other work, to devote time to this issue. "John Reeves [now a Darwin QC and author of the former CLP government's enquiry into the land councils] was incredibly important at that stage E "His interest waned after a certain point, and there were a few other people, but it was mostly pretty thin on the ground and that was part of why I started to get in contact with other groups nationally, to broaden the support base. "They were mostly peace and anti-war groups, and they had broader connections again, to church groups and unions." This work culminated in a conference held in Alice Springs during Easter, 1981, with plans taking shape for a major protest.
NEXT: The Women's Peace Camp ­ "courageous, controversial... but, when it all ended, the base was still there."


Wests Cricket Club set the record books in motion on the weekend when they defeated all challengers in A, B, C, and Under 16 Grades. The celebrations were on the go by mid afternoon Sunday, as players from each of the minor grades gathered at Albrecht Oval to see if their premier team, the A Grade could get over the line. The A Grade game was a real grand final. RSL had set an imposing 255 run target for West on day one. The Razzle had enjoyed what pundits believed to be the best of the pitch conditions on the Saturday and put together a score to test the best. Openers Graham Schmidt and Rod Dunbar compiled 63 before the loss of Schmidt's wicket, caught by Sean Cantwell off the bowling of Darren Clarke for 29. Dunbar however was unaffected by the loss and remained at the crease until the fall of the eighth wicket. In this time he scored 93 invaluable runs, hitting the ball in the meat of the bat and plummeting the boundary. In partnering Dunbar, Jeff Whitmore scored 13 before Ken Vowles snapped him up off the bowling of Jeremy Bigg. Saviour from the elimination final, Jamie Smith, then copped an LB off Vowles to return to the pavilion for three. Scott Robertson was bowled by spinner Kevin Mezzone for a humble 13, and it was left to Troy Camilleri and later Luke Southam to assist Dunbar in the run getting. Camilleri's 26 was well timed, but ended when Bigg claimed his scalp. Southam, who has been in some touch with the bat, then found himself stranded and run out for 31. Big Wayne Eglington then succumbed to Vowles for six, and skipper Matty Forster was caught by Mezzone off Vowles when on 13. At the tail, young James Tudor found the going tough and tumbled to a catch by Brian Manning off Vowles and the innings was over at 254. Vowles took 4/49, Biggs 2/46 and Mezzone 2/34. After a sweltering day in the field, the trump card Vowles, who was obviously fatigued, was saved from batting and Peter Lake accompanied Peter Tabart to the crease. In the dying overs of the day Tabart fell to Matt Forster for a duck and stumps were drawn with West at 0/5. On Sunday, Lake took to the crease with Andrew Modra and while Lake fell early as a victim of Forster by way of an Eglington catch for five, Modra did wonders for his batting average. Indeed he stuck to the task and compiled 40 before James Tudor had him caught and bowled. The fall of the wicket brought Vowles to the crease and the game changed complexion. Vowles, acknowledged as the premier batsman in the competition, simply took full control. He put the ball over the fence often. It hit into the pickets more often, and he made singles, twos and threes almost at will. The stocky champion was on a mission and batted like a Test player of old to his 100. From that point however it became evident that the strain of Saturday's bowling and the duress of batting in the heat had taken its toll. He cramped up and showed real signs of distress. A runner was called to his aid, and although doing it hard Vowles was able to crack a total of 141 when his wicket fell "run out." This left the game wide open. Mezzone was settling in and Graham Smith came to the wicket. In normal terms one would have backed Smith to make the required 48 runs. However, he received a delivery from Matt Forster which was judged as caught by wicket keeper Southam, and the local gentleman of sport walked from the crease shaking his head, and out for nine. With the score at 223 trouble again struck for West when Mezzone was given LBW off Forster also for nine. The job was still to be done with the Bloods perched precariously at 8/223, 32 runs in arrears, with Bloods bowler Darren Clarke and schoolboy Ryan Thomson in charge. The RSL boys were in with a real chance, having Forster and Cameron Robertson steaming in, and time on their side. To their credit Clarke and Thomson refused to be sucked into the "go for broke" syndrome. Thomson caressed loose deliveries through the slips cordon, and Clarke waited patiently for the loose ball. As such the pair edged their way to the target, scoring the required number of runs in the 65th over. Clarke, 22 not out, and Thomson 11 not out, walked off as champions. For the RSL it was a huge effort. They had gone to within two wickets of taking the flag. Matt Forster finished the day with 5/50 and James Tudor took 2/47, in a result that will be remembered. But the history books will record that in 2002 Wests won the A Grade, B Grade, C Grade and Under 16 championships.


At the Rugby grand final at Anzac Oval on Saturday night the Eagle finally dropped in with the golden egg, in the form of a premiership, for the club which for 17 years has wandered in the wilderness, for the most part known as the Misfits. In the presentation at the game's end first to come before President Roger Rudduck was Beaven Wilson, one of the old breed Kiwi Warriors who accepted the now traditional "wooden spoon". For Beaven and the Kiwis it was a first, but as the same man had been the manufacturer of the very symbol of cellar dweller status, it was accepted in fine spirit. Beaven spoke from the heart, praising this as being the best year ever for the CARU, with the two battlers of the competition in the final. The Best and Fairest of the finals award went the way of Kiti Fuluna, who returned "home" from Perth for the finals and went terribly close to guiding his Devils to a championship. Jonno Swalger was then presented with the Player of the Season Award, fitting for a pocket dynamo who was instrumental in the Eagles' consistently scoring wins. Fittingly also the trophy was donated by the Golden Oldies, named in honour of Allan Scollen, and presented by his wife. Steve Smith from the defeated side then spoke on behalf of the Devils, congratulating the Eagles, thanking the CARU and the supporters, inviting everyone to the Devils Den for an after party. From there it was the turn of the victors. Tui Ford took centre stage with Joe Dixon to accept the winner's trophy and shield. It was Ford's sincerity which epitomised just what the game is all about. Not only did he go through the traditional "pat on the back" to one and all, but he centred on thanking each family for letting the "boys run around the Park each weekend". For in rugby it is the standards espoused in family life that are reflected. Here in Alice Springs the game has not risen to the dizzy heights of packed stadiums, and injections of corporate dollars. Wives, girl friends, some kids and mates make up the crowd. The referee still has complete control of the game, even down to the keeping of the time via his wrist watch. There is no need for the almighty clock on the mound to vindicate the stage of the play, or how long to go! And on field there are the old hands, blended with the rookies, with numbers often made up by League players. Every one can have a go! Such was the way of the final on Saturday night. Early in the game, Henry Labastida, noted more for his Aussie Rules appearances, took advantage of a double blunder by Devils' defenders to score the opening try for the Eagles. Bob Wong, of Westies Rugby League fame, later stretched the lead to 8-0 when he scored a penalty goal; and late in the half Steve Schmeirer kept Feds in the hunt with a penalty. The half was hard fought with Devils showing the upper hand in the forward pack but unable to capitalise through their backs. In opposition the Eagles had Peter Russell rise to the occasion, bullocking his way through the hard work and keeping the Eagles on top. The five point sway the Eagles held at half time set the scene for a dour second period and for a time the game seemed to reflect the Cubs' situation the week before. The Devils drove in time and again but to no avail. The Eagles repelled the ball from their line with some clever kicking. The crunch in the game came almost 20 minutes into the half when a poor kick out from a Feds' penalty put the ball down the throat of Damien Willy. The champion duly swept down the wing for a try before the Devils could muster a defence. Bob Wong converted and the Eagles were looking comfortable with a 15-3 scoreline. Far from beaten, the Devils didn't falter, as was epitomised by their push over try, scored by Steve Smith. Alas, with Schmeirer out of touch in the kicking department the score sat at 15-8. Just 10 minutes before time Jonno Swalger was tackled without the ball and from the resulting penalty, in front, Wong seemingly shut the gate at 18-8. Not to be beaten, and despite the clock running down, yet again the Devils drove in with Fuluna breaking up the Eagles' line and making a pathway for Ashley Turnbull to score out wide, a belated try. Yet again the conversion was missed and the score remained on 18-13. Minutes later the ref signalled the game's end. History was established for the Eagles. It was a final that may not have had a Campese; John Eales was not in the rucks, nor (in the Devils' case) kicking; but it had two clubs playing the game in the true sense of the word, and a family of rugby supporters enjoying every minute. For John Cooper, Russell Ward and Joe Dixon, the dream had finally been realised. For the CARU it had been the best season yet. In Alice Springs we have a sport to be treasured.


Alice Springs author Jennifer Fallon is back in town and writing, writing, writing. She's working on the third book of her next trilogy: "I have so many ideas spinning around in my head, I wish there were some way to hook up my brain to the computer so I could get all the ideas down at once." Jennifer's first book and the first volume of the Demon Child Trilogy, Medalon, was published by Harper Collins in August 2000 (see Alice News July 19, 2000). It was followed by Treason Keep in January 2001 and Harshini, late last year. Medalon is now in its fifth reprint, while Treason Keep is in its fourth and Harshini, still its first. All three have been accepted for publishing in Germany and Russia. The first book of the second trilogy, The Lion of Senet, will be released by Harper Collins in October this year. It's in the fantasy genre like the first, but this time "without magic". "I call this series the Second Sons Trilogy as the main characters are all second sons." The second volume, The Eye of Labyrinth, is due out in March 2003 followed by the third, The Lord of the Shadows, in October 2003. Jennifer is still working on the third: "I know how it is going to end but I don't know how I'm going to get there. "Once I create a character they seem to take on a life of their own. "I like to put myself in the character's head and see how he or she perceives events going on around him or her. "I also like to take cliches and turn them on their head; I like to do something different with them, like in one of my books the bad guy wears white." With the second trilogy, Jennifer got a letter from Harper Collins thanking her for staying with them, and she's also been given a free hand with what and how she writes. She took a screenplay writing course in Melbourne last year and "learned the art of not wasting words". "I do believe new writers have a tendency to overwrite and to overwrite really badly. "I learned that every word has to count." Jennifer hopes to write a screenplay some day , as well as a kid's book. She's already been asked to write a fantasy story to go with an illustrated book called The Tower for 8-12 year olds. Now she no longer sweats over whether or not she can write, she can concentrate more on the plot. She's got in her head the plot of her next fantasy series, which will be about good and evil and whether or not the end justifies the means. "Some of my characters do bad things for good purposes... does this make them good or bad characters and who decides?" Jennifer returned to Alice Springs in mid-February. Alice is home:"I only went away to work on some projects. I never really left. "As it said in Harshini, ŒJennifer Fallon lives in Alice Springs and works in Melbourne. "Now I live and work in Alice Springs. And now I work part-time and write full time. I am having the best time."


An influential Alice "think tank" is calling for the relocation of the rail freight terminal, currently in the centre of the town, or the creation of a new freight yard, including facilities for road transport. David Cloke, chairman of the Central Australian Regional Development Committee, says the previous NT Government had a study prepared on the relocation but "it didn't see the light of day". "We want to find out where that is." Mr Cloke says the committee recently had a two hour meeting with Minister for Central Australia, Peter Toyne, who said he wasn't aware of the study but would get information about it. Mr Cloke represents the Chamber of Commerce on the committee of 12 which also includes members from CATIA, ATSIC, the Central Land Council and two senior public servants. Mr Cloke says the group is seeking to act as a "conduit of information" between government and business as well as social interests. "We keep pushing development in Central Australia, and that's not only economic development but also social. "If we keep the economy going, the social side ­ hopefully ­ will improve along with it." He says the committee found Dr Toyne to be "very receptive". Says Mr Cloke: "He was well briefed, he was able to talk sensibly, and with a reasonable amount of knowledge. "We got reasonable comfort that he's doing what can be done, I guess, within a limited budget. "He's very strong on his statement that he will do his utmost that the Berrimah Line is broken down. We've probably now got a Minister who's closer to the top of government in the NT than we've had for quite a long time." Mr Cloke says a major topic for the wide-ranging discussions was the aftermath of the Ansett collapse. "We were given an assurance that exactly the same incentives were offered to bring Virgin into Alice Springs as were offered in Darwin. "This was some comfort I hadn't been absolutely sure about." Dr Toyne told the meeting that $6.5m had been allocated to upgrade the Tanami Road, to the gold mines north-west of Yuendumu. "It is accepted that this isn't enough to do it properly," says Mr Cloke, a factor of the "difficult financial situation the new government took over." Funds have been allocated for the sealing of the Mereenie loop road over three to four years. Mr Cloke says a major local concern is that the two large construction projects in town ­ the hospital and the convention centre ­ "are coming to finality and there is very little on the horizon." Tourism had "held up fairly well so far but it's now going to bite. "The expectation is that there will be some very significant hurt from probably April onwards. "The forward bookings are now showing significant drops." Mr Cloke says available financial and business information about Central Australia is inadequate (see also Alice News, Feb 13). "There are very, very sketchy statistics being produced which relate to Central Australia, and particularly, Alice Springs, as to what are the economic drivers in this area. "The lack of hard facts makes it difficult to make informed decisions, and push for certain things to happen. "We all know what the major factors are but we don't know whether they are going up or down, and by how much." Mr Cloke says John Baskerville, the most senior bureaucrat in Alice Springs, "tells me he's been pushing for this for some time". "The Federal funding of Aboriginal organisations needs also to be factored. "There is no doubt that while there are significant social issues, there are important positives, such as the cash flow in this area because of the funding that comes in for the Aboriginal people and their organisations, money that is spent here. "Mining is important but we're still not getting enough of the spend by the mining companies in the town and the region. "There is a push on that at the moment. "A group of the Alice in Ten project is trying to increase the awareness and the commitment of the mining industry [mainly the Granites and allied gold mines] to support the local economy if at all possible. "We've got to be able to provide the services and we need to be efficient. "We're asking the companies to tell us what they can think they can get from here" that is currently sourced from outside the region. Mr Cloke says anti social behaviour now has "some impact on people's perception on why they should stay in Alice Springs". "We've got to find an answer. "There's talk about education, but that's a very long term problem." Dr Toyne assured the committee of a determined position on anti social behaviour. "If people think that because this is a Labor government we're going to be soft, this is not going to be the case," he told the group, says Mr Cloke.


"There are so many carers with houses full of kids - why single me out?" Jan Beven isn't one to blow her own trumpet. She's a foster parent, it's what she wants to do, that's all. She's never counted up all the children who have found a home with her, whether for a night or for years, but reckons it must be around 70. Daughter Emma, who has grown up within this large family, suggests 90. It started 17 years ago when the Bevens lived in Broken Hill. They had four children of their own, the youngest just two and a half years old. Graeme's job as a mining engineer had him working long hours and often away. Jan, a pediatric nurse, decided to pursue her long-held desire to "run a children's home" by taking in foster children. "Graeme accepted it, most foster fathers accept it. "There are a few who enjoy it but fostering is a 99 per cent woman thing," laughs Jan. She laughs a lot ­ she probably couldn't do what she does if she didn't laugh. After stints in Cobar, Kalgoorlie and Tennant Creek, the family arrived in Alice about 10 years ago. All of the fostering they had done till then had been relatively short term. Now they were asked to make a home for a nine month old girl who was severely disabled. It would be a long-term placement. Everyone in the family "fell in love" with the baby, even Graeme. "There was something about her, nobody could not bond with her," recalls Jan. "She was absolutely beautiful, and it was also because of what had happened to her, it made you want to protect her." The Bevens thought she would be part of their family for a long time. When she died four years later, from multiple medical complications, it broke their hearts. "It was the most devastating day of our lives ­ you never get over it," says Jan. "People think you will because you are fostering, you've chosen to do it. "But after caring for any child for a long period of time, the impact of losing them is just as severe as if you were losing one of your own." Now the Bevens are steadying themselves to go through the ordeal again. Nine years ago a little girl came to them for an eight week respite placement. She had been born with cerebral palsy but her prognosis was quite good. She was expected to live well into adulthood. With the Bevens she started to put on weight. The child's family, who live in a remote community, saw that she was thriving and asked if she could stay on. "She's well loved by her family," says Jan, "but she needs to be cared for in town. "I couldn't look after a child with her needs if I was out bush." The little girl, now 10 years old, has been with them ever since. About a year ago, her condition took a turn for the worse. Little by little a severe curvature of the spine is crushing her internal organs. She's no longer able to go to school; she can't sit up; she can't eat and has to be fed through a stomach tube; she has difficulty breathing and is often in pain. Jan says that with short term placements she keeps a certain distance; otherwise it would be simply too hard to say goodbye. In nine years a deep attachment forms. "We love her to bits," says Jan. Most people would think the Bevens have enough on their plates caring for a teminally ill child, but somehow they are also managing to care for two other children with special needs. Shanna, pictured with Graeme and Jan, is autistic and has "multiple medical issues", among them, not being able to eat. She too is fed with a stomach tube. (Shanna can be named here because her placement is a private arrangement between the Bevens and her family. The other children have been placed by Family and Children's Services and their identities cannot be disclosed.) Their little boy is permanently dependent on oxygen and also has a shortened life expectancy. Most people think I'm mad," says Jan. "Why on earth do you do it, they ask. "I do it because I love them, I wouldn't do it if I didn't." What about their own children, all young adults now, did they ever think they were missing out? Jan says they probably found it hard when the first special needs child came to live with them. "We've had our fair share of normal family traumas. "I've just had to work out who had the highest priority at the particular moment. "I know at times my husband has found it very hard." Since the older girl has been ill, Graeme has stopped going away. He helps care for the children each day between five and seven, while Jan cooks tea. Both of them recognise that they're getting very tired. "We do have our bad days. When the children are all home together, that's hard." During school term, Shanna and the little boy go to Acacia Hill Special School. There are limited holiday program options for them. Rather shockingly, there is also very limited respite care. Jan has not had any respite from the older girl for three months. This, she says, is not so much an issue of money (although money comes into it, as Jan's work is unpaid) as of finding the right person. All three children are very demanding and require a lot of special care. They have had some wonderful respite carers in the past, but lately it's been hard to find new ones. It's not just anyone who can take it on and on the other hand, Jan also wants to feel confident in the person. Needless to say the Bevens' social life is limited. They will occasionally get a babysitter and go out, but Jan says it's usually more relaxing to order in a Chinese meal. It's the holidays they miss the most. Before the older girl became ill, they did occasionally get away, with the children. It's not possible now. Indeed they're too tired to even think about it. The older girl needs medication and turning during the night, and is often awake, crying out in distress. They look back gladly on the holidays they had with her, the memory of her sitting in the shallow surf and laughing. "It's been the most rewarding as well as the hardest thing I could ever have done," says Jan. Last year Jan Beven was recognised as NT Carer of the Year; this year, daughter Emma has nominated her for the Barnardos Australia's Mother of the Year Awards. Four other Alice Springs women have been nominated for the Barnardos Awards. They are Imelda Johannsen, nominated by her son Brenton, for making a wonderful home for her children; Donna Bailey, nominated by her sons, Sean and Ian, for being able to run her own business and take care of them as a sole parent; Vicki McDonald, nominated by her daughter Bridgett for her care of her disabled child; and Barbara Geraghty, nominated by her daughter Bridgette, for her care, as a foster parent, of many homeless children and children with special needs. The need for foster parents is desperate; if you think you could help, ring Family and Children's Services on 8951 5170.


Can't this new Labor government get anything right? The august chamber of the Legislative Assembly is for making war, not love. As Clare Martin's predecessors have so amply demonstrated, Parliament House is also for things like running up a public debt costing us more than half a million dollars a day in interest (despite getting from Canberra five times the states' average Grants Commission allocation); for blowing vast amounts of public money on a railway when we still don't know what it will actually carry; and for running an education system that keeps a third of its clients in a state of abysmal ignorance. On second thoughts, what the adventurous Romeo did in the Chamber to his partner was not so different to what successive governments have done there to the Territory.
€ € € 
I'm glad the situation of the town council budget surplus is now finally absolutely clear: The council has unhesitatingly accepted a government recommendation (direction?) not to penalise its staff before having engaged in meaningful mediation. At the same time the council has told its CEO he won't have a job come September. And, no, the two decisions aren't contradictory: until he's shown the door, Nick Scarvelis and his masters, quite obviously in a spirit of earnestness, will have ample opportunity of having their differences sorted out by independent mediators. Will these be paid a hefty consultation fee, which will absorb the contentious surplus which started the kerfuffle?
€ € €
Is the Town Council setting a trap for Local Government Minister John Ah Kit, seen by some as the weak link in the Labor Cabinet? The Government has made it clear that unless the council gets its act together, it may get the sack. The Scarvelis dismissal (at the end of his contract) is clearly a slap in Ah Kit's face. If he doesn't react to the breach of faith, he'll be seen to be weak. If he sacks the council, the CLP ­ apparently having a majority on the council ­ will be screaming "undemocratic outrage". Watch this space.


Almost a quarter of the way through 2002, Year of the Outback!! When Alice Springs was crowned Capital of the Outback in late 2001, there was much hype in the Centre. Elsewhere, most Australians are unaware of our status. There are 25 pages of events in the official Outback Events Calendar and Alice Springs doesn't rate too many mentions. There is no reference to Alice, the Capital. Although major annual events such as the Alice Springs Racing Cup Carnival, the Old Timers' Fete, Henley on Todd, Red Centre Open Tennis Tournament and our bi-annual Masters Games are listed, there aren't many "one-offs" listed. Special events which do feature include the National Road Transport's Hall of Fame "Home for Bertha" celebration in honour of legendary trucking pioneer, Kurt Johannsen. There's also the official opening of the Larapinta Trail which winds through our spectacular Western Macs; and, the Last Camel Train Trek from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs in remembrance of the hardy Afghan cameleers who, together with their ships of the desert, opened up the Centre. Songlines from Alice will endeavour to show urban Australia that the Outback is a part of Oz, and showcase the Centre, and the Outback's unlimited potential and future challenges (Desert Knowledge and Remote Solutions). Centre Rocks will bring together fossickers, collectors, researchers and displays of minerals, gems and fossils. Then there's the celebration marking the 125th Anniversary of Hermannsburg (Ntaria). The Heritage Festival, Bangtail Muster, the Finke Desert Race and the Alice Springs Festival are amongst events that don't feature. It doesn't appear that the NT Tourism Commission, CATIA, Chamber of Commerce and Alice Springs Town Council have banded together to ensure that Central Australia receives maximum recognition in this important year. The Tourism Commission, CATIA and Town Council each boast extensive websites. The council's comprehensive site lists community events and advises that there are over 60 exciting Outback events Territory wide during 2002. Disappointingly only a few of these have made it into the Official Year of the Outback Events Calendar, which is, presumably, where intending travellers to the Outback, would look. Special Events co-ordinators and organisers had to ensure that event details were submitted to "Year of the Outback" collators for inclusion in the Official Year of the Outback Event website. A staff member at the NT Tourism Commission told me that acquiring information from various organizations was not an easy task. I wasn't able to follow up on that comment, but it suggests (if correct) that there is still no overlap or sharing of information. It isn't too late for organizations to add in entries. However most visitors, particularly those from overseas, finalised itineraries months ago. Interstate travellers especially family groups also know what they're doing in the 2002 school holidays. If Alice Springs is on their route, great. If it isn't, then they'll miss out on visiting the best part of Oz, the Red Heart, and seeing our spectacular countryside, and we will have allowed one of the greatest opportunities to showcase the Alice, in 2002, Year of the Outback, to slip away. I am sure that the Outback website has received many hits. There's quite a lot happening out there: a tulip festival in Tasmania; big bands concert in Wagga Wagga; an outback party in Tenterfield: a Celebration of Rural Australia art exhibition in Mudgee; Outback Adventures in Yilili; Tastes of the Outback in the Flinders Ranges: and (how on earth did they organise it?) a total solar eclipse in the South Australian Outback in early December, moving from Ceduna Lake across Andamooka, Roxby Downs, to the north of Leigh Creek and over to Woomera and Glendambo. Some interstate entries are quite interesting. There's a Waterbag and Sculpture Competition at Jandowae; Dog and A Ute Queue in Corrigin; cattle drives and a Never Never Country Cattle Sale at Mataranka; a wheelbarrow race in country Queensland. FLOWERS In Nannup, which is where ex-Alice residents, Avis and Kurt are enjoying life in the country, there's the Flowers and Garden Month. An invitation is extended to head to the outback to celebrate Easter at Carrieton. Longreach is also celebrating Easter. What about "Come to the Alice to celebrate the rising of a full moon on Good Friday?" Many city dwellers think that there's nothing to see in the (REAL!) Outback. What defines "outback" anyway? There's so much of it ­ where does it start, end? Trying to attract people away from the coast and into the Centre is a tough call. We come up against time restrictions, distance, budgets and how to get here. It's disappointing to pick up national newspapers and discover that the Outback Events section has been written by someone who has possibly never left his or her city office desk. Perhaps he or she logged into the Outback Website and noted that there didn't appear to be much happening in the interior. The visitor who actually arrives here may be surprised to discover that in this vast seemingly empty land, the Outback, there is a lot going on. It's just where you go, website-wise, to access the information, to find out exactly what it is, and when it is, that seems to be the problem!!


Community Development Minister John Ah Kit's recent statements in the Legislative Assembly on the "stark crisis" facing Aboriginal communities (see last week's Alice News) were given qualified support by the Opposition. In a similar vein to the Prime Minister, Richard Lim, (Greatorex) suggested that "only someone like the minister or Noel Pearson can be seen or be heard to say that many Aboriginal people acknowledge that the rot lies within their own communities, and that they must escape from the cargo cult mentality of the government doing everything for them". "Anyone saying such things will be labelled racist in the current environment of political correctness," said Dr Lim. Dr Lim claimed credit for successive CLP governments in improving the lives of many remote Territorians. He said the problem had been that as people became aware of services, "the level of self-referrals increased, and so it should be". Both Dr Lim and John Elferink (MacDonnell) asked why Aboriginal land-holdings, amounting to some 50 per cent of the Territory, had not been able to "deliver"? Asked Dr Lim: "What processes have inhibited the development of this land from which Aboriginal landholders can benefit?" Mr Elferink said he defined a dysfunctional community largely as one "not able to make its own way": "Aboriginal land in a traditional sense has always provided for the people who own that land, and I don't think it is a great leap of philosophy, certainly a leap in technique, but it is not a great leap in philosophy to suggest that that land can continue to provide for the people who own that land." He quoted Mr Ah Kit's own words in support of joint commercial ventures between Aboriginal landowners and outside entrepreneurs. However, Mr Elferink's thinking goes beyond joint ventures. He went on to describe his vision for a self-sufficient future for Aboriginal communities: "I would like to live in a Northern Territory where if a person who lived in Hermannsburg wanted to buy their own home in Hermannsburg, that they could do so, freely and through open trade with the owners of the land. "The people who own the land at the moment in Hermannsburg can't even sell it to the people who want to buy the land who live in Hermannsburg at the moment." In reply Mr Ah Kit took up this point: "I hear over the years since he's been elected, the member for MacDonnell talk about the Land Rights Act and criticise that, and that Aboriginal people are the biggest real estate owners in the Northern Territory, and that to solve all these problems in the communities they should have the ability to sell their land. "Well, as a member with a lot of Aboriginal people in his electorate, I am really confused that he doesn't seem to really understand how Aboriginal people view their relationship with their country, but he will learn, and I wish him well along that journey." In relation to Mr Ah Kit's proposed federation of community councils, Dr Lim said: "In the Central Australian context, already the Central Land Council has been undermining the reform and development agenda [concerning local government] and offering in its place another body, aptly called CANCA, or the Combined Aboriginal Nations of Central Australia. "This body will be administered by the Central Land Council, with the participating community councils surrendering local administration responsibilities to the central body. "What are we creating here? ŠThe minister has to answer how he proposes to bring about this federation of community councils. Is this a backdoor way of bringing about a separate Aboriginal nation in this country?" Mr Elferink said he agreed with Mr Ah Kit that "governments are not going to solve the problems that we see out in the bush". "But the Labor government is going to struggle with this in the same way that the former CLP government struggled with it endlessly." Mr Elferink also wanted more detail on how federalism is going to work in relation to community government councils. "How large are these federations going to be? Are we talking about federations which are half the size of the Northern Territory?" asked Mr Elferink. This is a very important question because you run into the cultural boundaries that exist in traditional shapes and forms in the Northern Territory." He illustrated his point with an anecdote. He'd been asked for an explanation of reconciliation by a person in Hermannsburg. At the end of the explanation, the person replied, "Well, I don't have any problem with whitefellas, it's those Warlpiri so and so's I don't like." Mr Elferink said he had had the same concern with the former government's push to amalgamate councils: "Now, there are good economic reasons for doing so, but what concerned me was that if you tried to push the wrong groups of people together, that it could lead to some very serious problems." In responding Mr Ah Kit stressed the importance of consultation with communities to "get it right".


Calls to "close Pine Gap" revive a 20 year old history of protest against the presence of this "Joint Defence Facility" in the heart of Australia. In the lead-up to a national demonstration at the Pine Gap gates, planned for October 5, 6 and 7, anti-militarisation campaigner and Alice resident SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH goes back to the roots.
The National Missile Defence program, or Star Wars, will attempt to provide the US with a "shield" based on missile interception systems. Rather than being a defensive nuclear umbrella, it is argued that this is a space battle system that will allow the US to attach other countries without fear of retaliation. This is a very dangerous development, militarising our planet's outer atmosphere, and commits the US to massively increased levels of military spending, a continuing moral outrage. An action by locals is being planned to join the national protest in October. This activity recalls moments during the 1980s when protests at Pine Gap made Alice Springs a focus for national and international attention. That they occurred owes much to the dedication, audacity and humour of people who were at various times associated with the now defunct Alice Springs Peace Group. Especially through the Œeighties, they pulled together diverse issues, people and other groups, shaping the character of this town, particularly in the field of politics. A history of protest actions at Pine Gap also tells the story of evolving alliances during the late Œseventies into the early Œnineties between the peace movement, environment movement, anti-colonial movements, Aboriginal rights and feminism. The most significant moments were the women's peace camp in 1983, the "Galaxy versus four bicycles" action in 1985, and the 1987 protests and conference opposing renewal of the Pine Gap lease. Although there were numerous other protest actions this short history will only deal in any detail with those three major events. These were the spectacular moments but they could only be achieved through thousands of hours of work and the regular smaller events that kept the issue on local and national agendas. There was the time, for example, when the so called "Alice Springs Peace Squadron" warned the public that US competitors in the Henley-on-Todd may be cheating by using nuclear powered vessels. On the day a lone protester disrupted the event by boarding the US vessel on his half surfboard, strapped around his waist. Several years saw the Peace Group organize a fireworks night at the Pine Gap gates on July 4. The gates were also locked with bicycle locks on one occasion, which were so effective that the whole gate had to be dismantled in order to get trucks in or out. The base was served an eviction notice, with 12 months to quit (in line with the lease agreement of the time). There were the 75 Karen Silkwoods ­ actually 113 as it turned out ­ and the awful night in the lock-up that followed. At one time several members of the Peace Group applied for jobs at Collins Radio, which had advertised for cooks to work in a mess facility making 600 meals a day.
NEXT WEEK: Phil Nitschke, now famous for his euthanasia activism, starts Concerned Citizens of Alice Springs.


Has the experience of mounting a production at the Adelaide Festival moved Alice's fledgling Red Dust Theatre any closer to becoming a professional company? For everyone, playing Train Dancing in Adelaide has been a leg up in terms of experience. They had to weather some 30 people walking out in the first 10 minutes on opening night, and a negative review in the Adelaide Advertiser, describing the play as the "nadir" of the festival, which sent them all rushing for the dictionary. "Lowest point"E The show went on: a more encouraging review appeared in The Age and a very positive review and interview with playwright Michael Watts ran on Triple J. The audience shifted, from what director Craig Mathewson describes as a conventional older festival audience, obviously affronted by the play's raw language and subject matter, to a much younger audience, in particular of young women, who were ready to embrace both. "At the end of the run we were playing to 75 per cent capacity houses," says Mathewson. "I'm not surprised by the split in the reviews, the script is one you love or hate, or perhaps love and hate, it does split audiences. It was certainly too confronting for a lot of people early in the run. "At that stage we didn't have warning notices up about the explicit language, so that may have played a part." More significant in the long run, says Mathewson, was the professional environment that Red Dust found themselves in, in terms of both support and demands. "It's great to know someone else will mop the floor at the end of the show. On the other hand playing for a whole week was a new challenge. The cast came to really understand the value of warming up to keep each show vibrant." They were also exposed to a rich cross-fertilisation of cultures and ideas as they mixed backstage with the casts and crews of other productions from around the world. Some new working relationships have been generated. Musician Cyril Franey found a collaborator and performed with her and Jacinta Castle at the Fringe Festival Club mid-week, which had a good spin off for Train Dancing. Steve Hodder was offered a contract by the Darwin Theatre Company for a forth-coming production, which will see him employed for six weeks' rehearsal and two weeks' performance. Both Franey and Hodder were asked to contribute to a forum on Indigenous cultures, and subsequently Franey had an offer to record his rap music in Sydney. All this is encouraging for Mathewson's vision of Red Dust, which he, together with Watts and actor Roger Menadue founded last year. Mathewson thinks the key to its future is to develop shows that are good enough to tour internationally. His model is the American Theatre Group, Europe, an English-language company based in Germany, for which he worked for some three years as a producer, director and tour manager. The company would offer 600 to 1000 performances each year, by three different troupes, taking advantage of student matinee audiences as well as the typical evening theatre audiences. Touring is tough, especially for people with young children, as is the case for several of the Train Dancing troupe. Red Dust would have to be quite selective of the type of person who was to tour, says Mathewson. And the troupe should be small, half a dozen, no more: "I think it would be very hard to do it out of Central Australia, but possible." So, what's the next step? They'll take several, all at once. They want to produce two new original plays for the forthcoming Alice Springs Festival, one by the multi-talented Anne Harris, another by Watts. They have already applied for funding to offer a series of acting workshops. They also want to explore the possibilities of other funding which would put them on a footing comparable to Tracks, the Darwin-based dance and performance company, or Black Swan Theatre which grew out of Broome and now attracts major corporate sponsorship.


Rovers bowed out of the local cricket race for the finals when they were beaten outright by RSL Works on the weekend. The Blue boys, who at times must have seen themselves as being a real chance for the grand final against West, literally took a dive when it counted. RSL had first use of the willow on Saturday and were dismissed for 141 on a pitch that seemed to have plenty to offer batsmen. Tye Rayfield claimed Graham Schmidt thanks to the safe hands of Gavin O'Toole when the RSL opener was on 15. Fellow opener Rod Dunbar was then partnered by Jeff Whitmore who registered only five before being caught off Mark Nash. Jamie Smith didn't hang around long before being stumped off the bowling of Craig Murphy for 10. Murphy also made his mark on the game by having Dunbar judged LBW when on 42. Kim Mason then struck in the middle order to dismiss Scott Robinson for 15 and Gavin Breen for five. From there RSL depended on Luke Southam, who put his head down and compiled 41 not out while those around him fell for few. Rayfield picked up Troy Camilleri for one; Wayne Eglington was LB to Peter Isbel for three; Matt Forster fell to Nash for a duck; and James Tudor was finally run out on two. Rayfield, Murphy, Mason and Nash each claimed two wickets and Rovers seemed to be in a position of control, in needing to chase only 141. Alas, rather than capitalising, the Blue boys literally dived overboard in response. For starters Scott Robinson claimed the wickets of both openers for a paltry four each. Then Jamie Smith took control with a spell that returned five wickets for a mere eight runs. He had Peter Isbel stumped for nine; Peter Kleinig was bowled after getting a start, when on 26; skipper Nash was caught for four; and Gavin O'Toole, given LBW, walked to the pavilion with a duck in hand. Rovers were perched precariously at 7/76 when stumps were drawn for the day. On Sunday at 12.30 there was little to cheer the batting side as RSL skipper Matt Forster claimed Jim Carmen and Craig Murphy for eight and four respectively, and Tudor mopped up the tail having Mason stumped for five. RSL took the first innings points by bowling Rovers out for a mere 88. However, as is often the case in cricket, the game was far from over. The Blues re focussed and proceeded to dismiss RSL in their second dig for 74. Rayfield showed grit in claiming 3/15 off 11 overs; and Nash, Isbel and Greg Dowell claimed two wickets each. For RSL it was only Scott Robinson who gave a yelp, with a solid 31. The Blue boys were in with a chance, needing 128 in a minimum of 22 overs to take the outright. This really was a time when a game plan needed to be set and stuck to, as just a little more than five runs an over would have gotten Rovers to the line. They got off to a good start with the openers Matt Pyle and Rayfield putting on 41 before the first wicket fell. Forster and Smith were sharing the bowling responsibilities and the pitch seemed to be playing as well as it did on day one. Following the openers Isbel fell for 12; Kleinig for four; and Nash, seven. Suddenly Rovers were sitting on 5/7 and seeking a saviour. Gavin O'Toole came to the crease and to his credit made 22 while his team-mates in the tail failed to assist him. Brendan Smith was run out for a duck, Carmen repeated the quack, Murphy was well caught by Whitmore in the deep for three, and Mason holed out for four. With almost two overs left to bowl, Rovers found themselves 18 runs in arrears and out of finals contention. Forster with 5/41 and Smith 4/43 were the wreckers and Works were in the GF. As was the case in the One day Series, West and RSL will meet in the grand final. RSL have forced their way in the hard way. The pressure of the situation in the Elimination however may stand them in good stead for the showdown with the Bloods. They really depend on Forster, Smith, Scott Robertson, and Cameron Robertson (if available) being at their best to foil the West batting lineup. West have a trump in Ken Vowles, and in the middle order Peter Tabart has proven his worth in recent weeks. Shane Law, Brian Manning, and Peter Lake provide plenty of firepower, and the tail can wag when Kevin Mezzone and Graeme Smith are at the crease. West also have a formidable bowling lineup with Jeremy Biggs, Daren Clarke and Sean Cantwell able to call on Tabart and Mezzone to tweak the ball if need be. In the pressure of a final however it could be the side better seasoned for the event which prevails. RSL have come into this final match hardened, and fine tuned by hard work and true grit, whereas Westies enjoyed the luxury of a week off. If the going gets tough in the centre, RSL could have what it takes to bring home a premiership.


History will be in the making on Saturday night when the Eagles and Devils play off for the premiership in Rugby Union. After years in the wilderness both sides have now learned how to win and for the first time will play off for silverware. In the knockout elimination final last Saturday evening, the Devils set the pace from the first whistle. The speed and guile of Ashley Turnbull set up the attack for the Devils and in capitalising on the playmaker's opportunism, the Devils established an early try, successfully converted by Steve Schmierer. As a surprise the Federal boys had brought Kiti Fuluna "home" from Perth for the game. The lanky No 7 dominated in the rucks and mauls and charged the line through a succession of would-be defenders to give the Federals a two try, 14-6 lead at half time. In the second half the Cubs came at the Devils, spearheaded by Karl Gunderson. Brian Castine scored a try to narrow the margin, establishing a match-winning four point margin from a penalty kick. The Cubs had the opportunities. Penalties went their way, but they failed to make full use of the advantage, and they had Federal super eager to repel. In fact in the last 10 minutes of the game the Cubs surged the line, but to no avail. The Devils now have the chance of back to back premierships. Feds marched into the grand final as 17-13 winners in the knock out final, and will have to be rated a real chance against the Eagles. The Eagles are deserved minor premiers and boast a line of youth. Tui Ford senior, a born leader, has Sam Moldrich, Levi Calesso, Henry Labastida and his own son Tui Ford junior, all young guns and at the ready. The Feds' Terrence Titus can look to young legs for a fast final. Jimmy Niland (just 21), Tim Blacker, and Simon Moldrich, both 15, will feature. Both sides also have wise heads with Stanford Forbes, John Cooper and Chris Castles hovering in the Eagle pack, opposed to Paul Venturin, Rod Staniforth, and Rob Pearson for the Devils. The inclusion of Fuluna could be a Devils' trump card on field. The secret to success for the Eagles may well be on the sideline. They will be there giving more than 100 per cent to honour their comrade Joe Dixon, bandaged up and still sore.


"Gays and lesbians have a propensity to travel and a high disposable income - the economic value of this market is well recognised in the industry," says Territory Discoveries general manager, John Greenslade. "They are the kind of tourist you go out of your way to get," says CATIA general manager Craig Catchlove. There was no argument from the tourism industry as the second Alice Is Wonderland gay and lesbian festival kicked off last Friday night, with poolside drinks at the Alice Springs Resort. Community leaders joined in. The event was officially opened by Mayor Fran Kilgariff. In welcoming the festival's visitors to Central Australia, she warned they may be captured by the landscape and lifestyle and never leave. Minister for Central Australia, Peter Toyne spoke of tolerance of diversity as a "fantastic dream": "Tolerance will spread as an irresistible force in the Northern Territory," he said, adding that he hoped it would also embrace Aboriginal people. He described the "media exchange" around last year's festival as "pretty disgusting", requiring people to respond. Organisers thanked those present for the "care and support" they had shown. Among the crowd of well-wishers was George James, vice-president of the Memo Club. The Memo is a community-run, not-for-profit club, the largest in Alice Springs, with nearly 3000 members. During last year's controversy, the club hung a rainbow flag (symbol of the gay and lesbian movement) outside their venue. This year the club's committee voted unanimously to officially offer their venue as "a safe place for gay and lesbian people to come and visit". "It was done out of a lack of prejudice," said Mr James. "There was no debate." Apart from the Alice Springs Resort, the Red Centre Resort and Witchetty's at Araluen will also be venues for some of the festival's program. Some 40 visitors from interstate have arrived for the event, as well as a sprinkling of internationals. Mr Catchlove said organisers had briefed CATIA staff about their program and the information centre was displaying its posters, but there had been few inquiries. Had staff required any special advice about being "gay friendly"? "No," said Mr Catchlove, "welcome to the 21st century, it's no big deal. "We already know how to be friendly to all our customers, whatever their background." Territory Discoveries, the business arm of the NT Tourist Commission, had put together a four-day accommodation and festival experience package. Mr Greenslade said the take-up had been minimal in terms of bookings, although exact numbers were difficult to pinpoint: the festival may well have attracted visitors who wanted more or something other than what the package was offering. He said the package also had a role in more general promotion of the Territory as a destination, and forging linkages with a particular market.


Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon stands by his demand for a security briefing about what goes on at Pine Gap, but, post-September 11, is probably further than ever from getting one. When the Alice News asked the question of Australian deputy chief of the joint defence facility, John McCarthy, he referred us to "the very complete statement" made by then Prime Minister Bob Hawke in the national Parliament in November 1988: "It's freely available in Hansard and was reported widely in the press, and John Howard who was then Leader of the Opposition made a lengthy speech in reply as well," said Mr McCarthy. In the space of a dozen years, Mr Hawke had gone from vehement opposition to the presence of foreign military bases on our soil, calling for an independent and non-aligned Australia, to unreserved support in the interest of "global peace". Indeed, this speech was the occasion of announcing the greater involvement of Australian personnel in the operations of the bases and of extending the terms of the agreements under which Pine Gap and then Nurrungar operated. Previously the agreements had required only a year's notice of termination; henceforth, three years' notice would be required, and the agreements were otherwise in place for a further 10 years. Mr Howard was only too delighted to welcome this "saner view that has always been advocated by the Liberal and National parties". Mr Hawke argued that increased Australian involvement would assure that the Australian Government had "full knowledge of all aspects of the operations at the facilities". His "very complete statement" of Pine Gap's actual business ­ the statement still current today, according to Mr McCarthy ­ amounted to this: "Pine Gap is a satellite ground station whose function is to collect intelligence data which supports the national security of both Australia and the United States. "Intelligence collected at Pine Gap contributes importantly to the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements. The value of that data has become more and more evident over the last year or two, as disarmament has moved from being an aspiration to become an emerging reality." The statement precedes the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Gulf War, the closure of Nurrungar, the election of George W. Bush, his commitment to "Star Wars", September 11 and the war in Afghanistan, to name but a few events that might make an update relevant at this time. Given all the effort and expense that goes into Pine Gap and the network that it's part of, one might well wonder, after September 11, if the network is indeed capable of intelligence gathering that could really make a difference to world peace? Says Mr Snowdon: "We, the people who are required to vote on legislation concerning our treaty obligations and security arrangements, are expected to cop the explanation that this is all a matter of Œnational security' and not be briefed. "We have to rely on the likes of former Defence Minister Peter Reith, whose credibility after the Œchildren overboard' saga is shot to pieces. "How can we rely on them? Parliamentarians should have a security briefing of a high enough order to understand competently the functions of Pine Gap and, if matters of public importance are at stake, we should be able to deal directly with the Ministers concerned. "We need to understand the exact nature of the activities at the base and how they might have changed over time and may change into the future. "This can be done and should be done without undermining our national security. "After all we are Œresponsible adults' who are charged with legislating on the affairs of the nation," says Mr Snowdon. The experience of British and European Union parliamentarians does not give Mr Snowdon much cause for hope. Visiting English anti-nuclear campaigner David Webb outlined for a recent public meeting in Alice Springs, attended by some 80 people, what is known about one of Pine Gap's sister bases, in fact the largest electronic monitoring station in the world, Menwith Hill, near Harrogate in North Yorkshire. The information is of the same order as the information available in Australia about Pine Gap: Britons have some idea of Menwith Hill's electronic monitoring resources and capability, but no hard evidence of how the information gathered is put to use, nor of the actual extent of its intrusion in everyday lives and the relationships between nations. What they do know is largely a matter of deduction, most of it the work of a tenacious British investigative journalist, Duncan Campbell. The best source of concrete information about the function of Menwith Hill, according to Dr Webb, came from bin liners taken from the base by Women's Peace Camp protesters and pieced together by Mr Campbell. Increased security has since prevented such fruitful incursions. A document supplied by Dr Webb, compiled by the Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, enumerates the unanswered questions of British MPs and foiled inquiries by the European Parliament. In Europe it would be appear to be taken as a matter of fact that its citizens are being spied on. The document quotes a 1999 report commissioned by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament: "Within Europe all email, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency [NSA], transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London, then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill." The interception is done by a system known as Echelon, although this code name may have changed, according to the document. Echelon has the ability to search, just as you do on the Internet, for key words that would identify messages deemed to be of interest to the NSA. Some 55,000 British and American operatives are employed to access data gathered by 120 spy satellites worldwide: "Every minute of every day, the system is capable of processing three million electronic communications," says the document. It quotes Margaret News-ham, who reportedly helped design Echelon, as saying: "We are spying on our own citizens and the rest of the world ­ even our European allies. If I say ŒAmnesty" or ŒMargaret Newsham', it is intercepted, analysed, coordinated, forwarded and registered ­ if it is of interest to the intelligence agencies." In July 2000 the European Parliament set up a temporary committee to investigate Echelon, its impact on the rights of European citizens and European industry. However, when members of the EP committee visited USA on a fact-finding mission in May last year, according to the document, the NSA, the CIA, the State Department and the Department of Commerce refused to talk to them. Dr Webb says it has been admitted that commercial espionage is carried out at Menwith Hill: "They intercept negotiations for big bids, they say they are looking for people who are not playing straight, they are looking for bribes. "They uncover them and lo and behold an American company moves in and takes the thing over. They say they're levelling the playing field, but they're levelling it in favour of the US." Dr Webb and fellow campaigners Jacob Grech of Friends of the Earth and Gareth Smith of the Canberra Program for Peace all say the secrecy of bases like Pine Gap and Menwith Hill is their initial concern. Says Dr Webb: "If people get all the facts, and then decide they are prepared to put up with it, then we have to accept that, but they haven't got the facts." Says Mr Grech: "It's a question of sovereignty. When our own parliamentarians were tasked with renewing the lease on Pine Gap, they protested long and loud that they were given less information about Pine Gap than can be found in a public library. "But when US congressmen were asked to pass an appropriations Bill to finance Pine Gap, they were flown out here and given a tour of the base." A second public meeting was held in Alice Springs last weekend to develop a local response to a planned national peace protest at Pine Gap in October. According to spokesperson Scott Campbell-Smith, the meeting decided that local attention would be focussed on the "militarisation of space" and on "stopping Star Wars". People attending also want the US bases to become more accountable to the Australian public. Meanwhile, Mayor Fran Kilgariff says that after September 11 she made inquiries about whether the town's disaster management plan needed revision. She was advised that the plan had been recently upgraded and is adequate.


Another great weekend! David and I enjoyed a barbeque breakfast out at Lee and Norm's house (he now wishes to proof-read my column, if he features, before I go to press). Sunset birthday drinks on the hill with Anne, William and friends; a drive out bush with Kate and Kingy deferred (because it was far too glorious to sit in a car for any length of time); and dinner with Sarah, and dozens of others, visitors to the Alice, at Bojangles. We have, ostensibly, so many choices and not a care in the world. But I can't seem to "get away" from follow-ups on follow-ups. It was super to receive feedback re the "Fortress Alice" piece (a number of people rang me) and to note that views were relatively balanced. It was also reassuring to realise how widely read "Erwin's rag" is. One dedicated reader told Erwin that the Alice News is an essential part of his week ­ he's the first to grab it, heading straight to the smallest, most important, room in the house to enjoy a few moments of uninterrupted bliss. Blissful ­ a good word to describe the Alice ­ along with vital, vibrant, spiritually rewarding and all those other phrases which describe the reasons we choose to live here. The issues that are dear to the heart, and impact on life in and around the Centre, will continue to be thrashed out: the old rules about not discussing politics, religion or sex, and broadened to include Indigenous matters and the weather, still create a stunned silence as people try to find something else to talk about. Then there's the relief at the realisation that no topic is taboo: everyone is entitled to opinions on all mattersŠand most exercise that right! Keep airing those issues: how to meld together diverse cultures, which are today at such diametrically opposite stages of development; the coming together, acceptance and mutual respect of all people by all people, recognising differences in ideals and values, in a totally equitable society. Minister John Ah Kit's gutsy speech to the Assembly last week, in which he highlighted Indigenous social problems and his proposals to introduce reform to assist Aboriginal Territorians to become part of mainstream society, as opposed to hovering around its edges, existing in whatever way they can, was straight to the point and totally inspiring. We're living in the most exciting part of Australia, and the calls for reforms as proposed by Indigenous leaders may herald an important new phase in the modern history of the Territory. According to the Weekend Oz (March 9-10), national leaders, including Prime Minister John Howard and ATSIC Commissioner Geoff Clark, are backing Minister Ah Kit's comments and observations on the problems he has identified and are supporting his proposals for reform. We must hope that these truths will point the way to positive change and the promise of a better future for all Territorians.

LETTERS: The Minister hasn't got it right!

Sir,- I am writing this letter to address the recommendations that came out of Minister John Ah Kit's report on the current state of the Town Council. There were six recommendations made and I am at a loss as to how these recommendations are going to solve the current problems of the council. The first recommendation requires that the council, as a matter of urgency, cause to be prepared an accounting policy and procedures manual to accord with the Local Government (Accounting) Regulations. This clearly indicates a failing on the behalf of senior management. Aldermen have been calling for a change to accrual accounting methods for a number of years, but to no avail. The second recommendation requires council to invite the Division of Local Government and Regional Services to conduct workshops for aldermen and senior staff in financial reporting and the preparations of estimates. Aldermen are not the ones that are meant to do the financial reports or estimates, that is the job that the senior staff should be doing. This is what they are being paid for and I suggest if they don't know how to do the basics they need to be replaced with someone who does. That is what some of the aldermen are trying to do. Granted that the Aldermen need to know how to interpret these but if they are to be the experts then I put it to Mr Ah Kit that this would limit the type of person that could stand for council. The aldermen are selected by the ratepayers to do their bidding and anyone can stand for a position. That is what local government means. Mr Ah Kit wants the department to provide elected member training and once again that should be the role of the senior executive. This is not being done because there is little experience and even fewer qualifications to enable the senior staff to provide any kind of training. The problems started when dispensation was given by the Local Government Division to employ a non-qualified person. From then on it happened time and time again that senior staff were recruited with little to no experience in local government. I still can't understand how limiting the size of the standing committees will fix the current problem but this is one of the recommendations. Mr Ah Kit wants council to appoint an independent mediator to address the breakdown in communications between the aldermen and the executive management and between the executive management and the staff. In April 2000 senior executive management brought in a facilitator to address this very problem and if ever there was a hidden agenda, this was it. All that came out of this was a vision. The last recommendation is a rehash of the previous recommendation. If the CEO was doing the job he was employed for there would be no impasse. If Mr Ah Kit took the time to talk to all the staff including those that had left the council, he would have seen a pattern emerge which would have seen a different set of recommendations being presented. Mr Ah kit seems to think that the problem is the budget but that was only the culminating point of a host of underlying problems within the council. There is no politics running here other than that of the senior executive and Mayor. The ratepayers support the aldermen who are trying to fix the current problem by removing those that can't do the job and replacing them with people who can. The ratepayers also want council to get back to the basics of rates, roads and rubbish and to do that we need accurate reporting from the senior officers so informed decisions can be made. Someone in council (or senior staff) thought it was time to change the council's image so the council logo was changed. The previous logo was a result of a competition and consultation with the ratepayers but the new logo involved no consultation with the ratepayers or staff. When I first saw the new logo on the side of a council vehicle, I thought it belonged to the Glen Helen Resort. Many people are at a loss as to what it means. Then there was the cost of changing the logo, which included the consultation for the graphic design, the printing of a whole range of stationary, business cards and new car stickers. There are still roads in town which are appalling not to mention footpaths and verges. The changing of the logo has done nothing to fix these. A good example of this is the road that that runs past the Flying Doctor Base which is full of potholes and fills with water every time it rains. Tourists and people who work in the government departments and the people that visit these departments have to negotiate the road and the non-existent footpath in order to go about their business. Then there is the matter of the rubbish tip whereby the ratepayers received six free visits to the tip when the weigh-bridge was first installed. What happened to these? In the last budget report, council made $64000 on the tip operation. There is still a component in our rates that is used for the operation of the tip or has that been changed without consultation? Some of the ratepayers have lived in Alice for over 20 years and they say that the town has never looked this dirty. There is litter throughout the parklands, there are drunks and their produce lying around town and the violence seems to be on the increase. When is council going to have some serious dialogue with other departments to try and fix these problems? The ratepayers feel that the report by the minister missed the mark and was a waste of time. He reported that the council is in a good financial state, so why do we still not know how much the council has? It was reported that the budget [surplus] stands at somewhere between $0 to $300,000. There should be a definite figure so that decisions can be made about how to spend it. If you want to have your say and find out more, come to the next ratepayer's meeting at the Scout Hall on Larapinta Drive at 6pm on March 18 or phone me on 8953 5526.
Ingo Steppat
Alice Springs.

Sir,- I refer to the transcript of a lecture given by Noel Pearson published in the February 27 edition of the Alice Springs News. I make the point that had a white man said what Pearson had said then he would have been roundly denounced as a "racist". It must have made the Labor Party faithful and other liberal-lefty trendies uncomfortable indeed to hear Mr Pearson pretty well tear to shreds the hand-out mentality initiated by their golden calf, Gough Whitlam. The "unconditional financial support" and "limitless understanding" is an ethos staunchly defended by Labor and sympathetic journalists. Yet Pearson blows this compulsory ideology clean out of the water by saying that abusive members of Aboriginal communities do not experience a determined rejection of their extremely bad behaviour. He goes on to say that what the drunks get is "(i) unconditional financial support ... (ii) endless nonsense talk ... (iii) limitless understanding ... and (iv) the defence of abusive lifestyles". Well, hello Mr Pearson ... my observations are that if white folk don't do all of the above then we run the risk of censure as "racist Nazis" or hasn't anyone else noticed. If a white government removed all this largesse as he proposes should happen (and incidentally I agree with him 100 per cent) then white Australia would be condemned globally by Aboriginal activists and their fellow travellers; no doubt equated with the "evil" Mr Smith of Rhodesia. The thrust of Pearson's argument is that owing to their receipt of "sit-down" money there is no incentive for Aboriginals to go and work but to gravitate towards dissipation in alcohol and drugs. Quite agree; why bother to work when you're paid to do nothing? OK. So now that a precedent has been set is it allowable for a white man to criticise Aboriginals? Pauline Hanson could have written that speech but she would unquestionably have been swamped with a tidal wave of abuse; not only from Aboriginals but most viciously from trendy whites.
Derek Cartwright
[ED:- The article about Noel Pearson's speech was a digest, rather than a transcript. The whole speech was much longer. However, we did point out that Mr Pearson is not suggesting a simplistic abolition of welfare entitlements, and is not against increased government funding, if it is properly directed. In the Alice News of Feb 21 we published the views of a "white man", Peter Sutton, which could be considered to be more "critical" but were offered out of a belief that Australians generally carry a duty of care towards all citizens equally, and especially towards the vulnerable.]


"It is almost impossible to find a functional Aboriginal community anywhere in the Northern Territory," Minister for Community Development John Ah Kit told the Territory Assembly last week. In a speech that has attracted national attention Mr Ah Kit painted a stark picture of the crisis faced by Aboriginal Territorians. He said his speech was aimed at Indigneous as well as non-Indigenous people, and at governments of all colours over recent decades. "Many, many Aboriginal people acknowledge that the rot lies within their own communities: the high rates of sexual assault, domestic and other violence are no more acceptable to Aboriginal people than they are to anyone else. "Aboriginal people feel enormous shame at the anti-social behaviour of their countrymen and women, of drunks and beggars in the streets, and of the lack of will from so many Aboriginal people to take charge of their own lives. "As an Aboriginal person myself, I feel no good when people are hassled and humbugged as they enter shops. I want those Aboriginal people to become a part of our society instead of existing on the fringes. "Aboriginal people in the Territory must escape from the cargo cult mentality of government doing everything for them, of relying on the empty rhetoric of playing the victim. "Aboriginal organisations must bite the bullet and develop new, innovative strategies to overcome the cancerous ideology of despair. "The simple fact is that it is almost impossible to find a functional Aboriginal community anywhere in the Northern Territory. I don't just mean the 10 or 15 communities that my department tells me that, at any one stage, are managerial or financial basket cases. The fact that a community may not get their quarterly statements in on time is only a part of the story. "I am talking of the dysfunction that is endemic through virtually all of our communities, both in towns and the bush. We cannot pretend that a community is functional when half the kids don't go to school because they have been up most of the night coping with drunken parents, or because they themselves have been up all night sniffing petrol. "We cannot imagine that a community is functional where less than one in ten people can read or write. Or where people are too ill through chronic disease or substance abuse to hold onto a job let alone receive training. Or where kids are born with illnesses that have largely disappeared from most of the third world and those who survive into adulthood can be expected to die two decades earlier than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Or where only 14 per cent of our kids reach Year 12 compared to 80 per cent of their non-Indigenous brothers and sisters in the cities and major towns." Mr Ah Kit, of Waanyi and Warrumungu descent, is clearly troubled by the extent of this crisis and spoke of his childhood memories of the family camp fire as his "personal light on the hill", guiding him through his "darkest moments". He said if the Territory fails to respond to the crisis, then it "will cease to function as anything other than a financial basketcase itself". "As my colleague, the Minister for Health, has already pointed out in this place the increased financial burden of Indigenous ill health threatens to blow out the economy faster than it can grow," said Mr Ah Kit. "If we do not turn things around for our Indigenous citizens we risk the creation of a permanent underclass for which future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, will pay potentially overwhelming economic, social and political costs." The Territory must also act on the basis of social justice, he said, to which "the Martin Labor government has committed itself, and on which we will be judged". "For Indigenous communities equity will mean building their capacity to engage in the economy in a meaningful way and investing in their own future. "Indeed, the critical importance of developing economic partnerships with Aboriginal people [was] a focus of last year's Economic Summit and has been endorsed by the Martin Labor government as a key to the future development of the Northern Territory." The task of turning around the crisis would be accomplished in "small steps along a very long road". One of those steps would be to reform community government, which has failed in its objective of greater self-determination. "At any one point in time, a significant number of community government councils are in dire straits, and virtually every one of the other local government structures in the Territory are heavily dependent on external support by government agencies and their officers. "None are self-reliant financially or structurally, and as government subsidies have shrunk or been frozen, their capacity for self-determination has withered. "Local government in the Northern Territory, as the principal focus of service delivery, or interfaced with other service deliverers in the Northern Territory, has failed abjectly in improving people's lives." Mr Ah Kit identified three major reasons for the failures € "Previous governments used Aboriginal local government as a part of their trench warfare against the Land Rights Act, and used special purpose grants as political carrots around election times." € "Aboriginal community councils have been given far too much to do. Bob Beadman, former head of local government, and a very experienced public servant in Aboriginal affairs, pointed out on a number of occasions that Aboriginal community government councils have administrative responsibilities that far outweigh those of the Darwin City Council". € "Thirdly, Aboriginal community government councils have been grossly under-resourced in carrying out those responsibilities" ­ in terms of both money and human resources. Mr Ah Kit spoke of a new approach to service delivery in the bush, involving "whenever appropriate and practicable, funds pooling arrangements" and "needs-based rather than submission-based funding". He referred to existing models in the Territory, which have enjoyed levels of success. They include the Indigenous Housing Authority NT (IHANT) and the way it has worked with the Papunya model of regional service delivery in housing construction, repair and maintenance, linked with employment and training. Others are the coordinated care trials, such as the Katherine West Health Board; and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum, a partnership between the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory and ATSIC. "Each of these models Ework on the basis of having strong and effective Aboriginal input and control. Each works on the basis of pooled funds, so as to achieve economies of scale, and each works on the basis of closely identifying need." Mr Ah Kit suggested that, in contrast to the previous government's reform agenda, community government councils may be federated, not necessarily amalgamated. FLEXIBILITY "The emphasis of the Martin government will be on flexibility and workability rather than the narrowly prescriptive approach," he said. He announced specific initiatives. € IHANT's role will be extended: "There is the potential to achieve better outcomes, from the full range of Indigenous housing and infrastructure funding to link planning and priority setting in this area to regional planning and development, and to achieve sustainable training and employment for local residents." € Full use will be made of a range of multimedia technologies to develop Indigenous knowledge centres, to deliver education and training and to develop e-commerce. "Two communities, Galiwinku and the Anmatjere Community Government Council, are well advanced in this development." € There will be a greater emphasis on training and career advancement for frontline housing staff. "In a first for Australia, this will be on-the-job training utilising an e-learning program called ŒBlackboard' E"As officers progress Epay levels will increase commensurately." € $600,000 has been set aside immediately, and for the next two years, to assist representative organisations within regions to build the capacity to negotiate to achieve the best possible outcomes in regional partnership agreements "for which they and those they represent, are prepared to be held accountable." Mr Ah Kit pointed out the major economic stimulus of, for example, the cooperative arrangement between the Northern Territory and ATSIC in the field of Indigenous housing. "In the current year, the impact of this program alone, will be $72.4m. Next year it will come to approximately $79m. Clearly, this benefits all members of the Northern Territory society, as well as our economy."


"Anyone can make a dumb little movie, but if you get six people together it's probably going to be a not-so-dumb little movie, and the important thing is that you will have actually made a movie, and then you can all call yourselves film-makers." Simon Booth says film-making, despite all the hype, is not hard. The critical thing is to take the quantum leap of making your first film. Booth is a recent arrival in Alice Springs and, like so many, is struck by the number of creative people around, but wonders why the independent film scene is relatively quiet. "It seems as if people are waiting for permission," he says. People often have the technology at their disposal, maybe even without realising it. There are a lot of digital video cameras out there, as well as computers capable of editing. And all you need to edit a Super 8 film is scissors and some sticky tape! There are probably script-writers living around the corner from would-be directors without even knowing it. The script-writers are probably boring their partners silly with their script ideas, says Booth, but would get a better hearing from others who are interested in making a film: "It's not hard to organise a script-reading, all you need is six people and a bottle of wine!" That could be the way to kickstart an independent film scene in Alice. Booth formerly worked for the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in their Brisbane office, and later for the Independent Film-makers Resource Centre. "I saw a lot of funding going into bad films. The funding bodies were backing people with a track record, not necessarily those with good creative projects," he says. Starting your own track record is within reach. Booth says he's had expressions of interest from actors, set and costume designers and a couple of writers. With a few more people on board they could have a reading session of several short scripts, then the group could choose one and commit themselves to making it into a film "on one weekend, in a blind flurry". Booth says he'd welcome the interest of people with professional skills as mentors; he'd also look to possibly organising a short course to be run here by the AFTRS. You can contact him on 0413 277 872 or email: .


Douglas Pipe is thoughtful, articulate and going places. The former NoKTuRNL drummer is now turning his attention to Rugby League. He's got a couple of years to realise his dream of playing in the Big League. After that, he'll think about going back to school and on to uni: his music experience could lead him towards a career as a producer, or he might go into teaching, the profession he's been thinking about since he was young. Douglas is a graduate of Alice Springs schools. Apart from a spell on the Gold Coast with his father, he grew up here, at the New Ilparpa town camp, near 8HA. He went to Traeger Park School until it was closed, and later to Bradshaw and Ross Park Primary schools, before going on to Alice Springs High. "Primary school was easy for me. I started early and was quick to pick up reading and writing," says Douglas. In the playgrounds in Alice, everyone played together, "young and innocent"; racism was not an issue. On the Gold Coast, though, at age seven, Douglas was shocked to be called a "Coco Pop" by an older boy. He turned right around and called him a "Rice Bubble", but he still remembers the hurt of the taunt. He says he didn't know that it was racism until he was in high school and racism came up as a subject for class discussion. That helped him understand where the occasional "you black so and so" that he was beginning to hear was coming from. At the same time, he encountered subtle examples of racism in the attitudes of some (but not all) teachers: an expectation that he would not be smart, not articulate, not able to read and write, not even trying. His first years at high school were difficult. Under the sway of another boy who was always in trouble, he started skipping classes. His grades, which had been good, dropped: he was getting Cs and Ds, maybe a B at best. Two things were critical in turning that around: the first was "a bit of pressure" from his mother, Judith Armstrong. She told him that if he didn't settle down and start studying, she would send him off to boarding school in Queensland. The last thing he wanted to do was leave town and all his friends. He decided to keep away from the one who was leading him astray and put his head down. At the end of first term in Year Nine, he was scoring As. Then it became a challenge for him to keep his grades up. Critical to this was encouragement from his teachers. Two in particular, his English and music teachers, gave him "a boost". "They saw I knew how to use my brain, they started praising me up, I was doing good, it was all I needed. Some teachers are harsh, they don't know how to cope with kids and they come across as though they think all kids, black or white, are brats." The teachers he responded to spoke to students as adults, they would be able to joke with them, and, most importantly, they rewarded them for effort. "There has to be balance, there has to be discipline in the classroom, and you have to know that what the teachers are saying goes. "But these teachers showed how much they were thinking about the students. It wasn't Œanother day, another dollar' for them," says Douglas. "To this day, I have a good relationship with these teachers. If we see each other up the street, we'll pull up and say hello." Douglas left school at the end of Year 10, spending the next three years touring with NoKTuRNL. During breaks, he would work for the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre, established by his uncle, Paul Ah Chee. This experience has made him more aware of his own Aboriginal culture. When he was a kid, he could speak to his cousins in language (Luritja and Southern Arrernte), but he lost much of it as he started mixing with a broader range of people and communicating all the time in English. These days he's making an effort to sit down with his grandmother and mother and learn language. Having seen how easy it is to lose your language, Douglas thinks it's important that Aboriginal languages are taught in the local schools: "Japanese people learn Japanese at school; Aboriginal kids should learn their languages at school too." He also thinks it's important for all kids to be exposed to inspiration, to help them define their own goals. "In a small town like Alice as you're growing up it's too easy to think you're not moving anywhere, that your dreams are moving further and further away and instead you turn to alcohol and drugs." So it's important for exciting things to happen, things like sporting and entertainment events "to show kids what they can do if they work hard".


The two major summer sports enter their finals series this week and for both rugby and cricket the "hit and giggle is over". In the Central Australian Rugby Union, history has been created this season. The minor premiership has gone to the perennial cellar dwellers the Eagles. Moving down into the underground gloom are the Kiwis. Never before have the Kiwis not been up there at finals time; generally they have been dictating the terms of finals action. Last Saturday night the death bell tolled over the camp of the long cloud as Terrence Titus' young Devils scored an impressive 24-10 win over the Kiwi Warriors. In scoring four tries to two, the Devils gave themselves a run in the business end of the season, and a winner take all encounter. Interestingly, in bowing out, the Warriors' try scoring sting came from Kiwis president, James Nolan, and a cornerstone of Kiwi Warrior legends, Geoff Manu. Then in the game between the top two sides of the union, Eagles and Cubs, which had nothing but psychological benefit at stake, the second placed Cubs made full use of the opportunity. Already proclaimed minor premiers, the Cubs swept to a 12-7 lead at half time. They then held sway in the last period, running out winners 19-12. In scoring three tries to two the Cubs showed that they have the benefit of finals' experience. On Saturday at 6.30pm at Anzac Oval, the Dingo Cubs will meet the Devils to decide the deserved opponent to the Eagles in the grand final. In recent weeks the Cubs have had to "do it hard", winning each of their games to ensure another premiership chance. They have bounced back from a two point loss to the Eagles in the second last round to place themselves well with the bookmaker. Roger Rudduck now has a team well-versed in winning under pressure and boasts talent right across the line. Paul Veach, as in most games, rose to the occasion last week with two telling tries. Carl Gunderson, Scott Reinke, Andrew Werner, and Geoff Bates add fuel to the Cubs' line of fire. And most importantly they have had to play the Kiwis when at their best (in recent years), in order to mature as a club and adopt the formula required for finals' success. With their opposition lies the virtue of youth. The Devils have a cast of true believers who will not lie down. Steve Schmierer again led the charge last weekend and will be stoking the engine room this week, taking it right up to the Cubs. Any elimination final has a rough and tumble, desperado facet to it. Saturday night's encounter will not vary. The Eagles will stand on the sideline quietly observant and a good crowd should be there to witness what may well be the game of the season! In the early afternoon, the boys in cream will also be all out, with a final being played on Albrecht Oval to decide the challenger to West in the cricket premiership stakes. Federal were eliminated at the death knell last weekend, and so Rovers take to RSL in the second versus third, two day decider. RSL have had a win in the one day competition this season, and against West in the last minor round game were tested. Ken Vowles was keen to stamp the Bloods' authority on ASCA cricket when he had his side bat on to make 9/265, after passing a target of 183 mid afternoon. Peter Tabart, who earlier in the season was batting in the tail, proved his true worth in making 67 before being run out. His innings was the highlight of the day, and set the scene for tail-enders Kevin Mezzone and Darren Clarke to make 31 and 37 respectively. In the Rovers camp, it had been Craig Murphy who "saved the day" for the Blues against Federal when he posted 32 not out and carried Rovers to their first innings target of 195. Federal were still not to be denied a chance of qualifying and defiantly they got themselves within earshot of an outright win. The desperate Demons' lunge was fruitless in terms of premiership points, but proved to be a good lesson for the Blues in preparing for the knockout final. Both RSL and Rovers go into the game knowing they have a job on their hands right down to the line. For RSL Matt Forster will be looking to bowl at his best and be well supported by Cameron and Scott Robertson. Rovers have skipper Mark Nash, a punter at heart and ever ready to accept a challenge, and the wisdom of the sage, Craig Murphy to guide them through any rough waters. Like the rugby elimination, at the cricket we will witness "hammer and tongs" sport, at its best, this weekend.


By PAUL FITZSIMONS What do you say when you're aged forty, relaxing in a reclining chair, and your daughter walks in and "sticks a tennis trophy" under your chin, asking, "What have you ever won, Dad?" For the Victorian- born Russell North, the words cut when daughter Caron put the hard question on him. He had played tennis, with moderate success, and he knew full well the rigours of cycling, but here his daughter was implying that he was not a winner. With a little thought and a lot to prove, North got up from his "Norm" posture and applied himself to the genteel art of training for athletics. First up he entered the Sun Fun Run over the Westgate Bridge, and despite limited preparation, finished, with a certificate, "to poke under his daughter's nose." North also realised that his time was "not bad", the view over the bridge had been good, and he'd passed plenty of little battlers on the run home. He felt pretty darn good. More Fun Runs followed, and in time he found himself entered in the Big M Marathon, the "creme de la creme" for professional down to social runners in Melbourne! He finished the Big M, and went on to complete five further marathons in Melbourne and another in Adelaide. So much for a mid life crisis when you can suck on as many cartons of Big M milk as you like after the run! In time North came to realise he was "on the circuit". He duly registered for the qualifying marathon for the Commonwealth Games, held in Sydney. And to this day he can skite to one and all that he finished within three minutes of the qualifying time Eplus an hour! North's work then took him north to Alice Springs, where he joined the Triathlon Club. He had both a cycling and running career worth discussing. In boasting to other triathlon luminaries like Ian Sharp ("North Melbourne didn't realise proper big man potential!"), North neglected to say that along the way he had undergone three knee operations and so had been reduced to the status of "jogger". Nonetheless, he became an invaluable asset for the Triathlon Club, holding court on the ABC corner, directing traffic, and afterwards, providing new-comers to the sport with the low down on true success. In time the wounds of early miles (and operations) were overcome and North returned to his beloved running. He extended his interest to the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club and soon found himself running five times a week over a six kilometre course, and cycling over 300 kilometres in seven day periods. He recently stood for, and was elected president of the Running and Walking Club. As Numero Uno, the hearty Russell North has recognised that the club is in its youth. At present 110 members strut their stuff around the pavements of the Alice living by the motto, "no gain without pain". Some are out for the exercise, some want to improve their lifestyle, and others are young, keen and ambitious. Sharon Kilmartin and Greta Auricht are youthful athletes who run to reach a goal. According to the president both have a future in the sport over distance events. With them is Steve Goldring who knows how to pound the pavement and would compete well on the southern circuit. Add to these the youthful pair Taran and Tenielle Sylvester, each of whom have the world at their feet. However, the club caters for every need, regardless of age or condition. On April 28, the eight kilometre "Lest We Forget Run" will be conducted. It is a national event with all Australians invited to join in and run the distance covered by the Australian Diggers at Gallipoli. The Running and Walking Club, with the Town Council and the RSL, will orchestrate the Alice Springs event. Starting from Pioneer Park, the run will pass through the Gap, down the Mall, and conclude at the RSL. It is an open entry event for one and all, when you can show your daughter, family, and friends your "coulda been" potential!


For the first time in the Territory, an Arts Grants Board will offer peer assessment of arts sponsorship applications. It is hoped that the board will be in place in time to assess the October 2002 round of applications. Arts NT is inviting feedback on a proposed model. It involves a cross-artform board made up of seven members appointed by the Minister from nominations. The seven, plus three reserve members, would serve two-year terms and offer "the widest possible representation of relevant interest groups". Up to three of the seven will represent regional interests. The Alice News queried the "up to three", as this could mean in practice no more than one. Or why not none? A spokesperson stressed however that the model is only a proposal: it's up to the community to now make their wishes known. There is no specific provision in the model for Indigenous representation. The Arts NT Secretariat will act in an advisory role. Independent advisers will assist the board when "specialist expertise is desirable to ensure informed decisions". Board members will be paid sitting fees ­ at a proposed daily rate of $190 for the chairperson and $135 for members ­ and travel expenses. These rates are better than those applying in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT (where the panel is voluntary), but less than those of the remaining states. The board will sit once for each round of applications. The meetings are expected to take up to three days. Decisions will be made using a scoring process. The Minister will retain the authority to reject a decision if it is considered contrary to government directions and policy, or not in the best interests of arts development or the general community. Board members may be required to abstain from deliberation and discussion on their own applications or applications relating to an organisation with which they are associated. A two-page outline of the proposed model and relevant tables, including one listing the pros and cons of peer assessment, are available from Arts NT or via the web site at:

Made with Concordance