‘One tough set of negotiations’: Jerry Dias on Unifor’s strategy in talks with Big three automakers



Unifor national president Jerry Dias says there is no better place to forward green policies than the auto sector with 50 per cent of vehicle sales in 20 years expected to be electric. Unifor is kicking off wage and benefit contract negotiations with the Canadian arms of the big three U.S. automakers this week.





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Jake Pracey-Holmes set for big day out at Gold Cup meeting


“She doesn’t work that well by herself but when you put her up against a mate, she’s been up to the mark.”

Pracey-Holmes was all on the back of Mameli, an ex-Gerald Ryan-trained speedster, in a Dubbo trial with the six-year-old stepping out for Kody Nestor for the first time.

The son of Nicconi won at Wyong on debut back in January 2019 and although he was beaten a long way in his heat, Pracey-Holmes explained Mameli only trialled because he had to.

“Kody said he had to trial because he had more than 12 months off. He went all right, he slipped when he jumped because he tried to jump so quick. If he doesn’t slip this time he’ll be up on the pace,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pracey-Holmes rightly points out that of Attalea’s nine wins, he has been aboard in seven of them.

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“He is a funny horse,” he said. “He is getting a bit older now and I think he’ll get further, the one thing about him though is he doesn’t like the wet.”

“I know he ran third last week at Dubbo but he didn’t handles it, if it was a dry track he probably would have won.”

In the meeting’s feature, the $37,000 Narromine Gold Cup, Pracey-Holmes rides nine-year-old Any Blinkin’ Day, or ‘Barry’ as Pracey-Holmes refers to him.

“It’s good to get back on the big fella, if it’s a wet track, it brings it right him into it because he loves it. The wetter the better,” he said.

“He has won a Dubbo Gold Cup so you can never rule him out.”

BEST BETS
RACE 5, NO.8 RESETTING EDGE
RACE 8, NO.3 THE SLEDGEHAMMER

BEST VALUE
RACE 1, NO.10 MIGHTY MINNIE

Tips supplied by Racing NSW.
Full form and race replays available at racingnsw.com.au

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SATURDAY TEAMS | Magpies, Roos, Dockers make big changes


The teams for Saturday’s three games are in with big changes across the board.

Collingwood, Fremantle and North Melbourne have made big changes, while Melbourne has not regained Max Gawn.

Carlton meanwhile brings in a debutant.

See the teams below:

North Melbourne

IN: E. Vickers-Willis, L. Hosie, M. Williams, M. Wood, T. Murphy, W. Walker

OUT: J. Polec, A. Hall, A. Bonar, J. Macmillan. J. Pittard, M. Daw

Brisbane

IN: R. Mathieson, R. Lester

OUT: C. Ellis-Yolmen, D. Rich

Melbourne

IN: B. Preuss, J. Viney, J. Lockhart

OUT: L. Jackson, M. Hannan. T. Rivers

Collingwood

IN: B. Reid, D. Moore, J. Elliott, S. Pendlebury, W. Hoskin-Elliott

OUT: J. Stephenson, C. Mayne, B. Sier, J. Roughead, T. Broomhead

Fremantle

IN: M. Walters

OUT: T. Colyer

Carlton

IN: J. Honey, H. McKay

OUT: J. Martin, M. Pittonet






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The alarming statistics showing the Waratahs can’t back up big wins


Praise came thick and fast for a team who were clearly still on cloud nine when the Sunwolves pipped them by two points in Newcastle just days later.

The hallmark of a good team is consistency and the Waratahs have shown little sign of it in recent years.

“It’s an incredible thing to think for a team like this,” Penney said of the 18-month back-to-back drought. “It’s a big challenge for us. We’ve got to get through that hurdle. We haven’t coped with short turnarounds and we haven’t coped on the back of a win getting up for games. Lots of little battles, probably mentally more than anything, arise out of this week.”

If you want to dig a little deeper in 2018, the Waratahs lost their semi-final 44-26 to the Lions in Johannesburg a week after one of their best showings; a 30-23 quarter-final win over the Highlanders.

Then there’s the nine-point loss to the Brumbies after piling on the most points in Waratahs history in a 77-25 thumping of the Sunwolves.

The last time NSW backed up a seven-point or more win was when they accounted for the Reds (52-41) and Melbourne Rebels (31-26) in round 16 and 17 of 2018.

Want more evidence from 2018? The 41-12 win over the Highlanders preceded a 12-point loss to the Chiefs.

A 37-16 victory over the Reds came before an ugly 29-0 defeat to the Lions. It was the first time NSW had ever been held scoreless in Super Rugby.

You get the point. Head to head, the Waratahs should be get the job done against the Force on the Gold Coast and will start at short priced favourites, but history shows they’re vulnerable.

Penney said it’s all about finding balance.

“It’s a tightrope you walk,” he said. “You want to keep people grounded but keep the confidence there. It’s just one of the arts of coaching.

“Every week is a new battle. You can’t launch from where you finished last week, you’ve got to start again, fill the battery, recharge the mind, be really clear about the different challenges that are going to be in front of you and then bring the passion, energy and desire that you need to to play this tough game we play.”

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Penney insists captain Rob Simmons, named on this week’s team sheet but a late scratching last round, is a good chance of returning against the only side yet to register a win in Super Rugby AU.

“We’ll be flying up there with a big bullseye on our chest,” Penney said. “They’ll be targeting us massively. They’ll be desperate for a win. They won’t want to be getting through the competition with a duck egg at the end. They’re a better side than that.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re not stepping on a banana skin and make sure our prep is good.”

NSW Waratahs vs Western Force @ Cbus Super Stadium – Friday 7.05pm

Waratahs (1-15): Tom Robertson, Tom Horton, Tetera Faulkner, Tom Staniforth, Rob Simmons, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Jack Dempsey, Jake Gordon, Will Harrison, Alex Newsome, Karmichael Hunt, Lalakai Foketi, James Ramm, Jack Maddocks.

Bench: Robbie Abel, Angus Bell, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ned Hanigan, Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Short, Ben Donaldson, Joey Walton.

Force (1-15): Pek Cowan, Feleti Kaitu’u, Kieran Longbottom, Jeremy Thrush, Fergus Lee Warner, Henry Stowers, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Jono Lance, Brad Lacey, Richard Kahui, Kyle Godwin, Byron Ralston, Jake Strachan.

Bench: Andrew Ready, Chris Heiberg, Tom Sheminant, Johan Bardoul, Ollie Atkins, Nick Frisby, Nick Jooste, Jack McGregor.

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Waratahs break back-to-back hoodoo with big win over Force


“That’s huge for us,” Waratahs captain Rob Simmons said. “We knew we were going to encounter a physical battle there. The first 20 minutes was a real slog and then it opened up.”

Dave Rennie was in the stands at Cbus Super Stadium, with television cameras panning across to show the new Wallabies coach and his assistant coach Matt Taylor chewing the fat.

The Kiwi is keeping his cards very close to his chest regarding selection, yet will be enthused by the rise in performance from a number of the Waratahs’ bigger names who, until this time last week, had been stuck in second gear.

Rennie’s first Wallabies squad will be nothing short of fascinating. Dozens of players will think they’re in with a chance and particularly since it sounds as if Rennie has given close to the entire competition a phone call – or at least a sneaky WhatsApp message – to say he’s watching.

On form, Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Jake Gordon, Will Harrison and Jack Maddocks should be there at a minimum, and all were slick on Friday evening.

The latter sprinted 55 metres after intercepting a lazy Jono Lance pass and nearly had a second five-pointer but it was overturned due to an obstruction.

Maddocks’ strength is seeing space and his speed, both of which can be utilised when those close by know when to give him the ball.

Dry conditions suited and both sides showed an eagerness to spread the ball wide, but it was the Waratahs who led 16-8 at the break courtesy of Harrison’s accurate boot and another fine try from Alex Newsome in the right corner.

There was a nice moment late in the match only front-rowers would understand when the Waratahs, camped on their own line, won an important scrum penalty.

Prop Tom Robertson was so ecstatic he looked out of breath and left the field minutes later knowing he’d put in a solid shift. It prompted a grin from Hooper, who had every reason to celebrate in his 150th Super Rugby outing.

Harrison controlled the tempo nicely, while Karmichael Hunt reminded NSW of his value with another polished performance as the Waratahs hung tough in defence, making 95 per cent of their tackles.

Harrison was an everywhere man. His desperate diving effort while running back to keep a ball in-field was overshadowed shortly after when Brynard Stander swooped on a Richard Kahui grubber to open the Force’s account in the 15th minute.

It’s also worth noting Harrison’s pinpoint goal-kicking and whether that string to his bow will come into consideration when Wallabies squads are named in coming weeks.

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Going into the match, the 21-year-old had nailed 24 of 26 kicks at goal this year and slotted another five from five in this clash.

A 94 per cent success rate won’t go unnoticed by Rennie, particularly given the Wallabies’ kicking has not been a strong suit in recent years.

NSW have two remaining fixtures – against the Brumbies and Rebels – and will likely need a win in either of those to remain in the top three and play finals.

Coach Rob Penney handed beers around in the sheds afterwards and will be proud of how the group is building after plenty of early season criticism.

The challenge now is making it three from three.

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Kamala Harris Raked in Cash from Big Tech During Democrat Primary



During the 2020 Democrat presidential primary, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was bestowed with the most billionaire donations of the nearly 30 candidates who ran for the nomination.

In the primary, Harris secured more donations from billionaires than any other Democrat running, according to a November 2019 analysis by Forbes. Before dropping out in early December 2019, Harris raked in donations from at least 46 billionaires.

A number of Harris’s donations came from executives and employees of big tech corporations, as Breitbart News reported at the time.

By August 2019, seven Facebook executives and employees had donated $1,000 or more to Harris’s campaign, nearly 20 Google executives and employees had donated more than $1,000, four Twitter executives and employees had donated more than $1,000, and 71 Amazon executives and employees had donated anywhere from $5 to $2,000.

Notably, Harris took donations from Impossible Foods president Dennis Woodside, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, and Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff.

Despite a lack of enthusiasm and support among primary voters, Harris’s campaign was propped up by a base of elite coastal donors, with less than 40 percent of her funding coming from small-dollar donors giving $200 or less as of October 2019.

On Tuesday, Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden confirmed Harris as his vice presidential pick. In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called Harris a “champion for hardworking families everywhere.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.





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Caring for kids, stopping offending: The town’s big issue.


By ERWIN CHLANDA

There was a strong thread at the election debate on Wednesday night, right across the political spectrum, about caring for young people and stopping them offending.

The record deficit was raised without any candidate offering a way of paying it back, and there were diverting views about water, fracking and the resuscitation of the economy post COVID.

As usual it was a well-meaning and generous initiative by the Chamber of Commerce but it was not a debate: There was no room for statements and claims to be challenged, tested.

Wayne Thompson, from the floor, asked the vital question in the youth curfew debate: What happens if a kid taken to a place of safety doesn’t stay there? He got no answer.

The two major parties – if the CLP, with two Members of Parliament, can be called major – are hiding from the media: Chief Minister Michael Gunner isn’t even replying to a request for an interview from the Alice Springs News, and none of the CLP candidates are available for one either, clearly preferring to communicate via minders and on social media.

And in the “debate” where were the well researched, sourced, costed, shovel-ready project proposals with solid business plans and money assured?

What was the Opposition up to in that space during the four years of Labor financial mayhem?

The public was expected to believe that the five elected members of the Town Council, hapless in the face of Alice’s woes, would suddenly fire in the Legislative Assembly. Really?

That’s Mayor Damien Ryan, three first-time councillors Marli Banks, Catherine Satour (absent because of a bereavement), Matt Paterson, and also Eli Melky, the head of the Federation Party, in the audience.

Cr Melky is still on council and we’ll get back the others, no doubt, if they don’t get elected to Parliament.

In the first of the meeting’s three parts the candidates were given two minutes each to introduce themselves to the audience of about 50, filling only half the COVID-spaced chairs: What qualities make a good representative for our region? How have you demonstrated these qualities?

Born and raised; worked tirelessly; family values; community work; problem solver; proactive; strong leadership qualities; sporting clubs; I love Alice Springs – that kind of stuff.

Then came four topics set by the organisers, starting with population decline and loss of skills.

Jackson Ankers (ALP, Araluen): We have the most generous home owner scheme in the whole country. Araluen voters are either Millennials or Generation Z. They will grow the population. More than ever we need the Aboriginal art gallery.

Domenico Pecorari (Federation): The population is declining despite migration from bush communities and overseas. Beautifying the Mall and a new hospital are merely a brief sugar fix. We don’t need a gas-led but a culture-led recovery.

Scott McConnell (Independent, Braitling): Crime is driven by social inequality. Indigenous people are feeling not welcome in their own country. Wenten Rubuntja’s book The Town Grew Up Dancing had the message: stop dividing this community and it will grow.

Matt Paterson (Territory Alliance) put his money on mining. A government resource co-ordinator general would streamline government processes: WA has the world’s fastest approval scheme, the NT is in 13th place. Currently proposed projects would operate from between three and a half years and 37 years and employ 1330 people after construction.

Wayne Wright (Independent): Making home ownership more accessible is the key.

Damien Ryan (CLP): We need jobs, community safety and opportunities. Mining is locked up in red tape. We need private money to flow into agriculture, mining and renewables. (Big applause.)

The economy shrank 21%, investments 85%.

Joshua Burgoyne (CLP, Braitling): The Gunner Government is $8 billion in debt which a CLP Government would have to pay down through earnings from investments. It takes nine months to get an exceptional development approval. Using local consultants rather than imported ones would reduce waste. Connecting the wet north with the dry Centre could turn the NT into the nation’s “agricultural powerhouse”.

Bernard Hickey (Greens, Araluen): Finding a way for Aboriginal people to feel more equal and involved will improve the economy.

Robyn Lambley (Territory Alliance, Araluen): Mismanagement has put us in the worst shape in Australia, but there will need to be more debt “temporarily”.

Pecorari: Get financial advice and follow it. When you are in a hole, stop digging. Higher royalties and pay for water used in mining. Reduce the size of the public service. Measures to prevent crime. Convert expenses to investments.

Dale Wakefield (ALP, Braitling): Debt is about saving jobs and saving businesses, keeping the economy going “in challenging times” and after a “chaotic” previous government.

McConnell: We’re not being governed well. Yet we are an “incredibly privileged jurisdiction”. Chief Minister sits on the national cabinet. We get $4.66 GST return on every dollar we spend. “We are getting lots of money and we are wasting it. Let’s stop peddling this crap that we are hard done by.” There needs to be one collaborative approach.

Antisocial behaviour.

McConnell: We need social inclusion for Aboriginal people, involve them in our economy. The cattle station Napperby had more Aboriginal employment than now when he grew up there. Our children are not safe.

Ken Lechleitner (Federation, Gwoja): Instead of punitive laws we should have “good, inclusive laws” which encourage responsibility towards each-other and allow us to dream together.

Lambley: Caring for our kids is our number one issue. She hesitates to use the word curfew but says we need to take them to a place of safety, find a responsible adult. Mr Thompson’s question was left hanging.

Later in the meeting Minister Wakefield disclosed that the management of the juvenile detention centre, adjacent to the adult jail, will be handed over to an “Aboriginal health service”. Congress says it is negotiating.

For the time being, it is understood the “Juvie” will stay with Territory Families if Labor is re-elected, and go to Corrections under a CLP government.

Bill Yan (CLP, Namatjira): I don’t feel safe at home, in the town. Bring the police portfolio back under the Chief Minister. Offending must have consequences.

Mr Yan, who resigned as the head of the Alice Springs prison to stand for Namatjira, later said in response to a question from the floor that the adult recidivism is 56%. Rehabilitation measures need more than 12 months to succeed and many sentences are shorter than that.

Wakefield: There are no silver bullets, there has to be “continuous hard work and commitment to policy that works and is evidence based, supporting families and making sure we intervene before a crime occurs.” Act during the first 1000 days of life.

Chris Tomlins (Greens): Take the kids out to communities, engage them in tourism and as rangers, and show them how we can work together. They are now in a vicious cycle of coming to town, offending, imprisonment, release and being “left behind in Alice”.

Enviromnent protection renewable resources.

Hickey: Develop a renewables industry, farms on indigenous communities, bush foods, rangers, carbon abatement, green army, arts and cultural occupations.

Ryan: Renewables have potential but while we need to be “sensible how to get there” we have the potential to provide clean energy to the rest of Australia. We could lead the world in the transition to hydrogen but need to “get there slowly”.

Wakefield: She is “incredibly proud” of the government’s environmental record and the move of renewable power in the grid from 2% to 16%. The previous government regarded solar power as a “hoax”. Sun Cable in Tennant Creek will put us on the world map. “The minerals we have around us are essential for the renewable economy” moving to hydrogen power and “export it to the world”. (Loud applause.)

Marli Banks (Federation, Braitling): “Local decision making needs to be implemented” in economic development issues.

Paterson: Emphasised his party’s “no fracking” policy. Advocates a renewables taskforce.

McConnell: “Stupid” fracking “is not part of our future”. He calls for a return to Alice Springs of the conservation and parks administrations.

In reply to a comment from the floor during the public questions session Minister Wakefield said water allocation will be a “huge issue” for the next government: “The CLP has a history of handing out water licences left, right and centre” to its mates.

When Jenny Mostran, from the floor, suggested ID should be required from voters Minister Wakefield asked for public feedback.

Another member of the public said the Electoral Commissioner had suggested 25,000 people, mostly Indigenous, were not on the roll and did not vote.

Ryan: This is a Federal, Local and Territory government issue. We don’t have enough people for our second Federal seat. The Federal Electoral Commission had closed its office in the NT.

Lambley: There is just one NT Electoral Commission staffer in Alice Springs to cover the whole of Central Australian. The low turnout in the bush is a major concern.

Wakefield: The Federal Government had moved its Electoral Office to Queensland. The most vulnerable don’t get a voice.

Maya Cifali, from the floor, asked Mr Paterson about fracking and uranium mining. He replied the mining industry can get by without fracking and the uranium question is up to the party.

Mr Ryan replied to a question on education that the Charles Darwin University needs to be strengthened “from the bottom up”.

Mr Burgoyne, whose father is a retired police officer, said the force works incredibly hard, needs to be properly resourced, is an incredible group of people who put their life on the line. He made no comment about the police number in the Southern Command being more than three times greater per capita when compared to the national figure.

In discussion about sporting ovals Mr Paterson said one more sporting ground is needed and Ms Banks said one may be lost, Anzac Oval, if a national Aboriginal art centre goes ahead there.

Mr Lechleitner said when he’s asked who built the new Supreme Court he replies its “men behaving badly. We (Aboriginal people) have to change that, we have to own this problem”.

Gwoja, the new seat in the west of the NT and stretching from the Arafura to the SA border, can have a “thriving economy” with gold, gas, cattle and water in generous supply, he says.

“Let us grow up together.”

SOON: Is defunding the police part of the Greens platform? We are asking for an interview with Bernard Hickey.

Photos: At top – moderator Professor Rolf Gerritsen, Minister Wakefield (green dress), candidate Damien Ryan (seated at right); other candidates.



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Young Melbourne Rebels aim for top spot but Queensland Reds shape as big challenge


Rebels coach Dave Wessels said his side continued to set their sights on winning the Australian title and they want to beat the Reds as Melbourne is only three points ahead of the Reds and New South Wales Waratahs.

“I’m pleased we are getting some momentum going into the finals, but Saturday will be a completely different contest as the Reds will be right up for it,” Wessels said.

“If we get the win then we will be top of the comp and I would be really proud of the guys as we’ve be playing under really difficult circumstances playing every game away in this comp.”

Wessels was forced to reconstruct his playmaking roles after injuries forced Haylett-Petty (knee) and half-back Ryan Louwrens (elbow) out of the side, but switching To’omua to centre and pairing Frank Lomani and Andrew Deegan as half-back and five-eighth proved inspired last round.

That formation will continue against the Reds although with Haylett-Petty hopeful of returning after next week’s bye, it could see another shake-up needed should the captain return to his role at full-back and Hodge reverts to a centre of a wing role.

“We have a bye next week and we expected Dane would be available to play after that which will be our game with the Waratahs,” he said.

Wessels said the strong play from young players across several clubs had proven a winner for rugby as a code and the Rebels and Reds have both unearthed impressive talent.

“I think it has been one of the wonderful things about this comp and it’s got better and better,” Wessels said.

“There is a groundswell of interest all of a sudden and I think that’s been because people enjoy seeing all the fresh talent.

“There is a hell of a lot of new guys getting exposure. What you don’t want to do is use that as an excuse for poor performances.

“Super Rugby is a place for men, not a place for boys.”

Melbourne Rebels play Queensland Reds in Suncorp Stadium on Saturday at 7.15pm.

Melbourne Rebels team to play Queensland Reds: 1. Cameron Orr; 2. Jordan Uelese; 3. Pone Fa’amausili; 4. Matt Philip; 5. Trevor Hosea; 6. Josh Kemeny; 7. Brad Wilkin; 8. Isi Naisarani; 9. Frank Lomani; 10. Andrew Deegan; 11. Marika Koroibete; 12. Matt To’omua (c); 13. Campbell Magnay; 14. Andrew Kellaway; 15. Reece Hodge. Reserves: 16. Efitusi Maafu; 17. Cabous Eloff; 18. Charles Abel; 19. Esei Ha’angana; 20. Michael Wells; 21. Richard Hardwick; 22. James Tuttle; 23. Billy Meakes.

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2008 Big Brother contestant Saxon Pepper back on home detention


More than a decade after he appeared as a contestant on TV’s Big Brother, Saxon Pepper now finds himself on home detention of a different kind.

Pepper was sentenced in the South Australian District Court on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to drugs, weapons and driving charges, as well as breaching his bail.

The 35-year-old was caught by police with a shotgun hidden in his wardrobe, a baton under his bed and a credit card knife in his drawer.

The court was told that, in 2016, he was kidnapped by bikies and tortured for hours.

“Since 2017, you have been threatened by people over a drug debt and a large, heavily-tattooed man said he would ‘destroy your existence when you least expect it’,” Judge Joana Fuller said in sentencing.

“You told police the fantasy (drug) was ‘Jungle Juice’, a sexual aid.

“That was a lie, you used fantasy because it helped your insomnia.”

Pepper said he had the firearm to protect himself, and told police he would fire into the roof and “one shot is all I need”.

Judge Fuller said Pepper has a “complex mental health history”, and he struggled after he appeared as a contestant on the reality television program in 2008.

“Your aim on Big Brother was to be a better person, but you felt rejected after you were evicted from the house after 15 days,” she said.

“You enjoyed a taste of fame – radio and television interviews, hosting nightclub gigs – but that fame did not last.”

Pepper was jailed for two years, six months, with a non-parole period of 18 months.

However, Judge Fuller said Pepper’s time spent in custody in the lead-up to sentencing had been a “wake-up call”, and he showed genuine remorse and regret.

She allowed him to serve the entire sentence on home detention.

“You’ve asked for a chance and I’m giving you that chance,” she said.



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Big national EcoFair audience a winner for Alice


By ERWIN CHLANDA

Best guess, how many people would you expect to enjoy a tour of the community garden in Burke Street, on a sunny winter’s Sunday? Fifty? Sixty?

Try 9000, from all around Australia – and rising.

The tragic pandemic has its upsides, and this is one of them: When the Arid Lands Environment Centre got into top gear in March preparing its 12th EcoFair the Coronavirus had struck.

But rather than cancelling the event, as many others were doing, ALEC decided on an online-only function and started a crash program to learn how to do it.

“Extra forms, extra paper work,” says CEO Jimmy Cocking (pictured above, streamed to more than 9000 people): “It’s not just a matter of downloading an app and it’s going to work. We had to do webinars to learn how to use the webinar functions of Zoom, and so on.”

ALEC engaged Costa Georgiadis (pictured below), from the ABC’s Gardening Australia, the regular star of the event, to appear online this time.

But when some COVID restrictions were recently eased the ALEC staff and volunteers embarked on cramming for a second subject: How do you cope with the reams of rules for live events – social distancing, contact tracing, limits on numbers and so on?

They took it all on board, and implemented it in an efficient but friendly manner from Friday to Sunday. And the town was rewarded with a superb three-day program that could be consumed ‘in real life’ or online.

This climaxed in the Sunday garden tour that gave the town some national exposure that only a lot of money could buy: Local garden guru Geoff Miers, untiring community garden worker Bruce Simmons and Mr Cocking – the roving cameraman, producer, on-the-run editor for the one hour and 45 minutes show – became online stars across the nation, on the Costa Georgiadis Official Facebook site.

Now the fair could be enjoyed via Zoom, Facebook Live, streamed, on an 8CCC live broadcast and Facebook.

Although some COVID attendance restrictions had to be applied, locals got a first-hand experience of Alice at its best, with a dozen or so members at the garden providing food including wood-fired pizzas.

Pictured (from left): Community garden helper Peter Ammizboll, Geoff Miers and Jimmy Cocking holding the computer used in the Zoom session, with Costa Georgiadis on the screen.

The “Hemp Territory – green opportunities for the NT” session yielded similar opportunities and savings.

Presenters from Queensland, Tasmania, NSW and Darwin joined in: The cost of bringing them to Alice Springs in the flesh would have been thousands of dollars.

“This year was about producing content, producing knowledge that could be shared, and that continues to be shared,” says Mr Cocking.

“The value to have something for posterity, rather than just having the moment, building the knowledge system and sharing it, is in the content that will be online in perpetuity.”

The fair gets financial support from the Federal and NT governments and the Town Council.

The garden started in 2010 and has now 50 plots. People can also use the community plot while Food for Alice sells produce from the garden.

The garden program was under the motto “growing food in Alice” which raised the question: Do we have enough water?

Mr Cocking, speaking to the News after the fair, says we’re not using it very productively, on lawns, and there are a lot of leaks.

Should the town effluent  – now dealt with in sewerage ponds that send water pumped from the Alice Springs aquifers via evaporation to far-away places – be recycled?

“Of course,” says Mr Cocking.

How much more food could the town produce with water from recycled sewage?

There are no numbers about that but “there needs to be investment so we’re not wasting it”.

He says the Alice Water Smart program was funded for two years. It “informed” the Darwin Living Smart program which the NT Government-owned Power Water Corporation has funded for the last seven years.

“It needs to be government funded and Power Water needs to be working in that space,” says Mr Cocking.

“They are doing it in other parts, there are water conservation programs happening in communities but not in Alice Springs where Water Smart generated all this knowledge but it hasn’t been followed up.

“It’s not up to small, unfunded community groups to do this off their own bat. This is a societal issue.”

Mr Cocking says he may have more leverage now as the newly appointed deputy mayor but “demand management is a Territory issue.

“What the pandemic is showing all of us is how reliant we are on things being transported to us, whether it’s internet shopping – “look at the lines at the post office” – but for food as well.

The town used to be largely self reliant on locally grown food: “The people involved in this garden are seeing the writing on the wall.”

Mr Cocking says there are negotiations about setting up a second community garden in the grounds of the Middle School in Gillen.

The Water Advisory Committee will be reconvening and there is a review of the water allocation plan coming up in the next 12 months, says Mr Cocking.

There had been lobbying to get rid of the cap on extraction, supported by the Town Council at the time, “which ultimately has led to there being no investment in water conservation work since.

“It’s been de-prioritised. No longer is there a statutory plan to reduce water use, to conserve water.”

The land councils are calling for a safe public water drinking act.

“Ultimately we are mining our water so unless we come up with some magical way of making water there is no simple fix.

“That’s the challenge of a hydrogen driven economy that is using a lot of water.”

A documentary included in the retrospective of works by film maker David Nixon, who  passed away earlier this year, dealt with the Ten Deserts program initiated by ALEC with a $21m donation from the BHP Foundation.

Mr Cocking says it is a time-limited project to support or deal with Indigenous land management, to help set up protected areas, fire management, “rangers coming together which is building cohesion and trust,” feral camels, inappropriate fire regimes.

One current project is producing an animated series on buffel grass in Pitjantjatjara language.

“ALEC was part of starting this. We came up with the name Ten Deserts. I personally helped pulling all these partners together between 2013 and 2016.”

The Nixon documentary showed early efforts to protect bilbies (like the one at right), and a national gathering in the hugely remote Kiwirrkurra community, across the WA border.

More recently, during aerial fire fighting “one of the elders in the helicopter could see bilby tracks and so they were bilby tracking from helicopters,” says Mr Cocking.

Where will Ten Deserts go from here?

“There is always a challenge of getting something to scale without losing the intent,” says Mr Cocking.

“You get something bigger and you create a bureaucracy, all these different levels. A this point Ten Deserts is largely focussed on rangers and supporting land management. But ALEC advocates within that space for a lot more action on climate change.”

That includes issues of housing “on country” where people are “happier, healthier, connected to country, connecting the kids to country and keeping culture strong [but also ensuring] that people are living sustainably out there, have sustainable livelihoods.”

That final point seems be very much to be a work still in progress – but time may be running out: “In 20 years’ time it may be too hot out here for a lot of that stuff.”



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