Wednesday, October 21, 2009


There were horrifying scenes in the Legislative Assembly chamber today when the Minister for Noxious Weeds and Funny Walks and Talks was attacked by a killer triffid plant from one of those 39 new planets discovered in outer space. Making menacing noises , the triffid attempted to suck out the brain of the minister , but had difficulty locating his thinking gear . As a joke, the minister had held up what he thought was a bunch of house- trained , hybrid Ragwort , worse than Paterson’s Curse, and said it was a bouquet for the Member for Macdonnell .

Whereupon, the outraged posy exploded like a transformer into a bloodthirsty triffid. The terrified, screaming minister and the evil plant rolled about the chamber like two Greek wrestlers . Madam Speaker saved the day when she whipped out a machete from the side saddle on her throne and chopped the leafy triffid into a Greek salad, without a sprinkling of fetta cheese, which is understandable in the life and death circumstances.

His eyes rolling back into his head , the honourable minister went into shock when the only doctor in the house administered the kiss of life and presented him with a gunmetal watch for 20 years’ service to baffling crossword puzzles. Rushed to the Royal Darwin Hospital Vegetable Attack Trauma Unit, the minister received expert attention from Dr Len Notaras and a gift from a Wonderland rabbit who was running very late, passing out Easter eggs.


If dissidents in the Federal Coalition still oppose Malcolm Turnbull over the ETS and conspire for his removal then the stage will be set for conservative forces to do a Harold Holt –disappear without trace. The disarray , opportunism and base redneck tactics being employed by the Tories is symptomatic of an outfit which is near death . Without doubt , Turnbull , if given a chance, would be able to reshape and knock the rabble into some kind of shape. He , however, because of the bitter Medici mob , within and without, and the yapping National Party nonentities is under siege.

In his final mutterings before , thankfully,exiting parliament, Peter Costello , once and for all, shattered the confected myth that he has been a true supporter of the True Blue party all along . Members of the Coalition objecting to the ETS had every right to do so, he said , making life a little more difficult for the present leader, Malcolm Turnbull. Cuddly and affectionate when he appeared on Q and A , the arbiter of good manners, John Elliott, said he was glad to see Costello go because he had divided the Victorian Liberals .

Former PM Malcolm Fraser accused the Coalition of scratching the redneck nerve of the nation. This prompted the NT Country Liberal Senator, Nigel Scullion, appearing on the ABC Stateline TV report , to say Fraser is from the Jurassic Park days of politics , so it was surprising that anybody took any notice of the Crazy Grazier . This may be so, but there are lot of cockroaches , survivors from dinosaur days , scurrying about Canberra's conservative corridors, making discordant squeaks as if sprayed by Baygon. Observing the undisciplined actions of the Coalition, PM Rudd might be tempted to go for the jugular and call a double dissolution which would annihilate the Coalition and see the lonely survivors tramping around Canberra in Doc Martens and ten gallon cowboy hats trying to attract media attention.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Sitting down to write this post, word came through on the radio that the New York Times has laid off 100 of the staff , having earlier sacked a similar number and reduced pay by five percent. Sad indeed is the plight of newspapers in America . Recently we heard that the Miami Herald , which has a long record of embracing new technology , was in deep financial trouble. A friend of ours , seeking fame and fortune in America, both of which he achieved, undergoing a vasectomy and a divorce in the process, worked on the Miami paper decades ago . At the forefront of computerised production, the paper impressed our journo buddy who sent us an interesting letter about the innovative publication. One snippet of information he supplied was that when you wrote a story for the Herald it immediately went into a computer,was lodged in a subject file, and could be called up instantly. Wow? What would those Yanks think of next ? we wondered in our IT ignorance.

On the subject of crime in Miami, he said car stealing was highly organised. If you wanted a part for your Cadillac, you could ring up a number of places and they would arrange to knock off a Caddy for you and strip out the part you wanted, or just remove a panel from a parked car, if that was what you required. Of the 21 Pulitzer Prizes for journalism the Herald has received over its long history , one was for reporting the extent of organised crime in l950. That propensity for illegal activities obviously grew and spawned the modern Miami Vice TV series. Falling on hard times, the paper has sacked 17 percent of the staff and , if it can still afford the distribution costs, also circulates in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


For years , embarrassing , obvious mistakes at Darwin’s Cenotaph- focal point for large annual services attended by the Administrator, politicians, RSL officials, representatives of Allied military forces, veterans and relatives of past and present serving personnel- have gone uncorrected.

There are glaring spelling errors in the stonework at the Esplanade memorial which detracts from honouring those who served and died in many conflicts from World War 1 onwards. One panel refers to United Nation Peacekeeping when it should be plural, Nations . Another panel incorrectly spells the Philippines - Phillipines . The Australian DEFAT Travel advisory is for the Philippines . Another gaffe cut into the stonework in large gilt letters refers to Netherland’s East Indies . It should be Netherlands East Indies , now Indonesia , part of the Netherlands (Dutch, former Low Lands ) extended kingdom. For these errors to continue unchanged gives the impression that Darwin does not care or is Hicksville, despite all its pretensions at being a slick modern city. The expression rough as guts also comes to mind.

The powers that be in Darwin can see a golden opportunity to make a bigger buck out of the city’s war history , and now uses the despicable marketing term , “BRAND BOMBING ,” in respect of the opportunity to cash in on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin in 2012 . Before the planning goes any further, Little Darwin strongly suggests the Darwin cenotaph snafu be fixed asap.

In addition, the Welcome to Darwin website , dealing with war memorials around the city, needs an overhaul to correct spelling errors, smarten up the text and decide on the editorial style for the second global war , it being variously presented as WW11, ww2, WW2 , World War 2 .

Dealing with the Esplanade cenotaph, it says the area has “ a beautiful war memorial in memory of those who enlisted in the Great War from the Northern Territory ”. Beautiful is hardly an apt adjective used to describe a memorial to a war where there was wholesale slaughter. Directions on how to get to the memorial state it is not far from the city center (sic) .The Esplanade, it continues, strethches ( sic ) along the harbour .

The guide information about the Charles Darwin Park, where there are old armament storage facilities, says Ggates (sic) are open between 7am and 7pm. The East Point Military Museum , also subject of poorly written prose, is just five minutes from the city center (sic) . The description of the Myilli (sic) Point Heritage Precinct contains repetitive statements about pre war houses.

The Katherine region, the web says, is 310 kilometers(sic) south of Darwin and further information can be obtained from the Katherine Visitor Information Center (sic).

On August 19 this year, the Bombing of Darwin and Military History Advisory Committee held a meeting in the Darwin City Council. Those present included Mayor Sawyer and Alderman Robyn Lesley ; Ms Melanie Rieichimeier,Tourism NT; Ms Tiffany Manzie and Paul Cattermole, Major Events; Ms Apolline Kohen, Department of Natural Resources,Environment , the Arts and Sport ; Malcolm Uhe, Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Stephen Gloster ,Returned and Services League ; Ms Karen Conway , Community & Cultural Services, Darwin City Council; Graham Fenton,Communications and Marketing , DCC; Mrs Amanda Adams , Assistant Committee Administrator.

Nowhere in the minutes was there mention of the urgent need to correct the cenotaph errors and the amateurish website guide to Darwin’s war memorials. Alderman Lesley discussed developing “ product ” Bombing of Darwin with the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin being a significant event attracting national and international representation. The meeting was told that Alderman Lesley would be up up and away soon to formalise a relationship between Darwin and Honoloulu, Hawaii , both having been bombed by the Japanese .

With all these high powered people and organisations involved in “ brand bombing”, surely somebody will attend to the cenotaph situation and the less than satisfactory What ‘s on Darwin guide to the city’s war memorials.

Friday, October 16, 2009


After a month in Java , one of our roaming correspondents recently passed through Darwin with disturbing news about the environmental damage taking place there . He has been visiting the island for 20 years and said the extensive logging taking place is alarming. There seemed to be people everywhere with chainsaws and cut down mini buses fitted with industrial engines used as mobile sawmills . In areas where there had once been massive trees , there was now “nothing”. Regrowth in clear felled areas is in turn being quickly cut back to feed dairy cows. Because of the destruction of forests large flocks of birds are raiding rice paddies . Some farmers are switching to growing corn and sugar cane. The pollution of streams is also appalling, according to our informant, with vast amounts of rubbish, including plastic, and extremely high faecal readings . He grimly forecasts that there will be widespread starvation and disease in Java within 10 years .


How would you like to buy a luxury apartment in Darwin only to find that you can hear the residents living above walking about because of some apparent shortcoming in the construction of the building floors? Not very happy . Little Darwin has been told of a number of apartment blocks where this unsatisfactory situation is causing tension and could lead to possible legal action . One heavy- footed person has even been asked to wear softer footwear, perhaps slippers !!!, because he has been driving the people below crazy. The construction industry and building inspectors should take a careful look at this matter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


That irksome advertising slogan “brand Darwin” took a hammering when the NT Legislative Assembly turned into the Blackhole of Calcutta and the Waitomo glow worm caves in a lively Question Time session . When the lights went out during the streamed debate beamed to a global audience of 3,000,000, and a large Martian invading fleet of UFOs , there was a cheer , Fong Lim MLA Dave Tollner cracked a joke about the Casuarina sub -station and glow worms suddenly appeared in the gloom . Prior to the blackout, Health Minister, Kon Vatskalis, had been grilled and chiacked by the Opposition about his reaction to the AMA’s report on the nation’s hospitals, especially in respect of the Royal Darwin Hospital waiting time for elective surgery and the time it takes to be seen in emergency. His answers were impossible to understand from the West Wing , so people watching live on the internet may have thought they were listening to a Mandarin speaking encyclopedia saleman on SBS.

By way of light relief, the omnipotent Member for Nelson, Gerry Nelson, asked Mr Vatskalis, in his role as Minister for Primary Industry , what steps he was taking to save the billy goat nut trial now in the hands of NAB . Also known as Kakadu plums, this is grouse bush tucker with a supposed economic future. The Minister’s answer was impossible to understand from the public gallery , but wild tomatoes seemed to get a mention .

Soon after , the chamber was plunged into darkness when an 11,000 volt cable was cut. And some CLP members held up what at first seemed to be large birthday cake candles , battery powered candles stored in their desks from a previous stunt when Darwin experienced a series of blackouts. Six were seen bobbing about like Kiwi glow worms . An emergency generator nearby kicked in and there was partial illumination. Speaker Jane Aagaard, with a black look, tersely told the CLP's leading light ,Terry Mills , to stop playing with his glow worm and he immediately doused his fluorescence .

After all the excitement, Little Darwin’s speleological correspondent withdrew for a latte in the parliamentary café , and while enjoying the soothing view across the harbour heard the familiar sound of fire appliances which, three in number , including the high rise building Bronto , converged on Government House . Was the Administrator’s residence on fire , had a flambe imploded , or had his cat climbed a Royal Palm and refused to come down ?

Our scribe travelled to parliament in a bus for Question Time and witnessed a truly amazing episode when a passenger, dressed like a swaggie or shearer , with a navy blue singlet, daggy pants and a roll , a shapeless felt hat pulled down over his locks , got into a blue with the driver . Still standing as the bus pulled away from the kerb, the fellow was thrown off balance, bounced from side to side and ended up at the front of the vehicle, abusing the driver. The driver replied in kind. Whipping up his singlet , the said shouting swaggie /shearer, exposed a distended stomach, possibly indicating he was on the elective surgery waiting list. Arriving at the city depot, the man from the back of Bourke continued his abuse of the driver who gave as good as he got. A female passenger rolled her eyes and shook her head. It was yet another weird day in brand (bonkers) Darwin.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The Legislative Assembly statement made by Health Minister Kon Vatskalis about the Professor Margaret Davy fiasco ( see post below ) has been doctored a bit more by the Legislative Assembly Hansard department which has the difficult task of trying to interpret what flustered and angry members have to say. The latest version still reads like part of the script from the United States of Tara , with the good gynaecological oncologist listed as both Davy and Davey(sic) , even in the Hansard guide to questions she is Davey (sic) . However, the mysterious Amanda (sic) Davey(sic) has been expunged completely . The re-edited statement still seems to indicate the modest and shy minister is reluctant to be intimately examined by a male doctor.
Also missing in the latest version is a sentence which said she- Ms Davey (sic) - was going to see her ( inaudible). Wonder what it was ? After being so badly treated by the NT Health Department , who could blame Professor Davy if she, like Tara , needs to see a shrink .
Feel sorry also for the Hansard staff as the initial transcript of another speech made by the minister dealing with a trip to Alice and Tennant Creek in search of the Golden Fleece mine contained umpteen "inaudible" utterances.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Plastic surgery was required behind the scenes in the golden staph ward of the Hansard office on a puzzling statement made by Health Minister Kon Vatskalis . The Member for Macdonnell , Alison Anderson, recovering from a broken foot after a clothesline fell on her, asked the minister to update the House about the status of Professor Margaret Davy , the Adelaide based gynaecological oncologist , who was given the flick by the Royal Darwin Hospital after 20 years of service to the NT. Ms Anderson asked the minister why he had told the House at the previous session that Professor Davy 's services had not been terminated when , in fact, she had a letter saying she was no longer required? His answer , in the uncorrected daily Hansard record, which made the situation as clear as Holy Ganges River mud , was thus .

Mr Vatskalis : Madam Speaker,I thank the member for MacDonnell for her very important question, because I met Professor Margaret Davy . I actually invited her to speak with me. I spoke to her because I have to admit I was furious [with] my department . When I gave advice to parliament at that time that a letter was provided to Margaret Davy, I found out that no such letter had been provided . I gave the advice , relying on the advice provided to me by departmental officers…
Members interjecting.
Madam Speaker : Order,order!
Mr Vatskalis: Madam Speaker, I spoke to the department to ensure that Margaret Davy was provided within…
Members interjecting .
Madam Speaker: Order,order!
Member : Blame the public service again .
Mr Vatskalis : I relied on the e-mails and a briefing I received and that is the reason I was furious . I demanded that everything was rectified immediately. Ms Davey(sic) will be coming until the end of the year. She is going to see ( inaudible) . She was also asked by me personally to put for a tender. I know now, I have been informed that she will put for a tender when the tenders are called early next year to provide gynaecological services to women in the Territory. Most importantly , I demanded that indigenous women are provided culturally appropriate services that I know very well Amanda (sic) Davey(sic) has provided in the past , because I strongly object, and I know very well that a lot of women , not only indigenous, but other women from different backgrounds will object to being examined intimately by a male doctor. [Does this mean the minister refuses to be examined intimately by a male medic for his annual health check up?]

I spoke to Amanda (sic) Davey : actually I met with her upstairs in my office , I was totally nonplussed by my department . I was disappointed by the response I received , and I told them that next time this will happen I will be prepared to accept letters of resignation.

Because the minister is hard to understand due to his accent and rapid delivery , members were not sure what his answer really meant. One MLA said Kon had " sacked "someone in his department, thinking he had said a letter of resignation was in the post. Another MLA said it was unclear exactly what the minister had told the House, which was par for the course.

Because Little Darwin’s gonzo scribbler was still suffering from piles, he had not been in the House to hear the Minister orate. So we turned to the online daily transcript ; two rapid sweeps of the notes failed to find the exchange . Had it been surgically removed for a major rewrite ? If so, what will the official record say. Feel sure we will keep our readers and Amanda/ Margaret , to use a reproductive medical term, in the loop. A bit more looking about and we found the above transcript in the Question section dealing with Professor Margaret Davey[sic] -"Termination of Services "

How the fact that a minister says he is" furious" with his department and that the" next time" there is a cock up he will expect resignations went unnoticed by the media is strange . But then, the media may not have understood what the minister was saying ,required an interpreter, or they were having a sickie.


While the debate about whether or not female members of the ADF should be frontline fighters continues , there is a woman quietly living in Darwin’s rural area who was at the front in a confrontation which could have started a global nuclear war , the l962 Cuban missile crisis. A journalist in the US Navy at the time, Toni was serving at the American base at Guantanamo Bay, part of Cuba. After a spy plane picked up missile launching sites on Cuba , President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade and issued an ultimatum for Russia to remove its nuclear weapons . Tension mounted further when a U2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba. Russian leader , Nikita Kruschev , demanded the US remove missiles from Turkey , a request ignored.

A member of a family with a military history , whose father was a high ranking USAF officer, Toni took photographs from an observation plane that flew over Russian merchant ships on which nuclear missiles were laid out on deck , their covers rolled back, for aerial inspection . One of her photographs appeared in Life magazine , but was wrongly attributed to a male - Tom instead of Toni. While she did not get the credit for the photograph ,she did meet her husband who ran the Guantanamo Bay base radio station , a situation like the movie , Good Morning ,Vietnam!

It was said Russia only backed down because it had a weak naval capacity and thereafter threw itself into a massive naval expansion, which inevitably led to further tensions between the superpowers. While we say Toni now leads a quite life in Darwin , there are times ,while watching Fox News and ironing, that she has the urge to launch missiles at the box .

Monday, October 12, 2009


Covering the first day of the current session of the NT Legislative Assembly which was filmed for internet streaming was a painful experience. Why ? Because this gonzo journalist , suffering from haemmorhoids , was in agony sitting on the rock hard seats in the West Wing. Also uncomfortable , the seats made embarrassing sounds like a whoopee cushion as I slid about trying to ease the agony .

Gritting my teeth may have given pollies the impression that I was a grinning , bug –eyed loon as I leered at them over the rail . Some viewed me suspiciously as if I might whip off my smelly sneakers and throw them like that brave journalist in Iraq who bombarded President Bush. My wife , who told me I looked like a hobo because I had not tucked my shirt inside my jeans and that I needed a haircut, sat by me , whispering furtively from behind the cover of the daily program held up to her face.

While I was making embarrassing non-U sounds , sliding about on the cruel seat crafted from Carrara marble , my dearly beloved suddenly added to the cacophony with that medical condition, hungry belly rumblings. Glaring at me as if to make out I was responsible for this gaseous eruption, she went red and retreated behind the program shield like Madam Butterfly with a fan.

The sitting kicked off with a declaration from the government side that it was only too happy to extend the time for adjournment debate speeches from five minutes to 15 and that ministerial reports , seen as propaganda , spin and time wasting, would be wiped. In addition ,10 0'clock closing ( nothing to do with the drinking laws of yore) would be introduced, half an hour longer than before. This was a clear sign of an outbreak of improved democracy under the new parliamentary set up due to the pact with Gerry Wood, who twice said he had not put a gun to the head of the government..

The Opposition greeted the concessions with a certain amount of scorn , pointing out these reforms had been rejected by the government when it had the numbers. Now, there was a variation of the Charles Darwin theory of survival of the fittest – survival at any cost. Port Darwin MLA John Elferink waxed biblical when he said the government’s new stance was no sudden conversion along the road to Damascus. No, it was the divine intervention of Wood who, it seemed , had led the government across the Dead Sea back into the promised land . While the opposition took a few shots at Wood , the manager of government business, Chris Burns , said Gerry Wood was a great guy and implied that a vital part of our solar system shone from his person.

The first day of streaming - and many of the computers in parliament house went on the blink. While some politicians had problems accessing their laptaps during proceedings , others seemed to be receiving mixed messages, probably warning of the second coming. While the wallpaper on the laptap of Government Whip Michael Gunner was a view of planet Earth from the Moon, the monitor of Health and Beefsteak Minister , Kon Vatskalis , bounced about frenetically , going from climate change to something called the Longreach Solution . There is no doubt the fact that the proceedings were being filmed had an impact on the personal appearance of some members, with changes to coiffure, nail polish and wearing of suit coats by some on the government side. Minister Vatskalis started off fully suited , but later shed his coat.
While Vatskalis was making a statement about nursing numbers in the NT, hard to understand because of his accent, about which Bushranger commented in the Sunday Territorian , the member for Greatorex, Matt Conlon , called out for an explanation about the treatment of gynaecological oncologist Professor Margaret Davy at Royal Darwin Hospital. There was no response from the minister . Little Darwin understands some interesting things have been going on behind the scenes which may be the subject of various announcements and political action.

Still puzzling is why Housing Minister Rob Knight, who wore a suit, has a soft toy which looks like chicken under his desk. Is it some kind of security blanket ? Alison Anderson told the House the minister is known by his constituents as "Silent Knight ". As he has been doing a lot of jawboning of late about SIHIP and the shortage of housing throughout the Territory, it could be a misnomer. Then again,Silent Knight was the name of an early refrigerator invented by Sir Edward Hallstrom, patron of Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Sir Edward flew to Darwin to rescue the shipwrecked chimp, Jimmy, who had been living in a cramped cage aboard the yacht Sea Fox, and installed him in a fine monkey house with a million quid view of Port Jackson and an endless supply of bananas. Jimmy showed his appreciation by giving Sir Edward a hearty hug each time they met. Minister Knight would receive the same thankful simian reception if he could quickly arrange accommodation for the many people struggling in the Territory housing jungle.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


*In impoverished Bangladesh, 15 per cent of slum people in Dacca suffer from strongyloidiasis , which can be fatal. * In some parts of the Top End , where people have been tested for this disease , more than 30 per cent were positive. * The parasitic worm which causes the disease is endemic throughout Central Australia and a large number of children between the age of one and five are affected .* Data from Alice Springs Hospital shows that strongyliodiasis is present in people from nearly all communities in Central Australia , including over the border into South Australia and WA. * Non Indigenous staff who live in Aboriginal communities have contracted the disease. * Some “ grey nomads “ have contracted the disease during their travels in the north. *Strongyloidiasis in Central Australia is associated with human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV1) infection that suppresses the immune system.


This disturbing Third World picture emerged during the week , just after the federal Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Tony Abbott, said the handling of Indigenous matters in the NT had reached a “ failed state” like condition. He cited the SIHIP fiasco, the case of houses unroofed at Santa Teresa settlement by a storm a year ago which had not yet been repaired, unsatisfactory Alice town camp conditions and no apparent reduction in the flow of grog in the area. The intervention was being weakened, he said , and the old status quo seemed to be asserting itself in the Territory. The need for consultation should not be used to stop the righting of intolerable situations , he declared . Even though some actions may be unpopular, a government had to govern.

Abbott’s claim of a “failed state”, which could be dismissed as political hyperbole, gained strength when an ABC Stateline TV report, with radio bulletin follow ups, revealed the apparently widespread existence in the NT of the parasitic worm strongyloides which can cause death and debilitation . The charge was made by the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services that the NT Health Department refuses to take the issue seriously . It said Health Department laboratory technicians did not want to carry out tests for strongyloidiasis caused by the worm infestation . According to the Health Department it is waiting for Commonwealth funding to carry out a “pilot” scheme. It appears the proposed pilot involves testing and treating "everyone" in Galiwin'ku ,Elcho island , with Ivermectin to combat the disease and scabies.

The ABC TV report focused on Elcho Island and told of a woman who had been feeling unwell for a long time who collapsed twice and a boy whose mother thought sorcery was responsible for his illness. The worm can enter the heart, lung, liver, kidneys and brain, even producing septicaemia and meningitis. It is not checked for in autopsies to determine the cause of death so the inference is that people have died from disease without the cause being properly detected. Up to one third of the indigenous population in the NT could be suffering . The microscopic worm can exist on damp grass , be picked up by going about bare footed and through cuts .

Until the ABC broke the story , the NT Health Department appears not to have thought it necessary to alert the NT community . Yet on September 17 this year, the National Strongyloides Working Group held its fifth workshop on Strongyloidiasis in Alice Springs. It was attended by experts from Brisbane Townsville ,Perth, Melbourne, Bendigo, Sydney and the NT . Proceedings seem to have gone unnoticed .

The meeting concluded that the disease should be made notifiable and a national strongyloidiasis register be established to find out the extent of the problem . This would enable people in areas where the disease is endemic to be tested and treated .

Photographs of houses in NT Indigenous communities showing plumbing that was not properly installed or maintained resulting in waste water with faeces pooling inside dwellings. The workshop report says this situation was an ideal environment for the spread of the disease and other diarrhoeal diseases . It goes on to say houses in these communities were not required to meet the standards enforced in the main cities and and towns of the NT. The points at the head of this post come from that workshop .

Other literature says the disease has been picked up by people travelling overseas and by defence force personnel serving in areas where it is endemic. Another piece of disturbing information is that the worm can be passed through mother's milk to babies with dire consequences.

While strongyloidiasis is presented as a national problem in Indigenous communities it is really a threat to the entire NT population . The Alice workshop defined the disease as being caused by the tiny tissue parasites and secondary infection by gut or respiratory system bacteria . The disease is life-long unless effectively treated . In the chronic form ,it is characterized by intermittent gut, skin and respiratory symptoms, as well as abcesses in various parts of the body. In the severe form , it can produce pneumonia and or sepicaemia and or meningitis and severe skin and gut conditions . It invariable ends in death unless the underlying disease is treated as well as the bacterial infection

NOTE : The disease occurs in refugees from various regions of the world where it is endemic .While there is a national programme to screen and treat refugees for the disease , there is no such programme for Indigenous people where the disease is known to be endemic- a situation which is a national scandal . It is an issue which should be pursued with vigour in the Legislative Assembly sitting which commences tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009


In what must be close to a Territory- if not a national - record, The Groove Café in the Nightcliff shopping village has now been broken into 37 times in six years, four times in the last month, the second in four days. The cafe is just around the corner from Nightcliff’s Monday -Friday , 9-5pm , Clayton’s police station . Another Nightcliff village break in, not reported in the media , took place at the NT Council of Social Services office where about $250 was stolen Another shopkeeper patrols his shop at night with a dog . Recently Nightcliff shopkeepers have had to contend with an aggressive and argumentative person who was beaten off with a shop’s sandwich board in one confrontation and threatened to hit a man with a hammer .

Also causing comment and concern , is the person who for several weeks has been seen walking around the streets ranting at the top of his voice . Parap used to be his beat and, according to bizarre street gossip , believers in conspiracy theories say he knew so much embarrassing to the government that he was fed drugs to silence him ! The powers that be have not yet gained the clear message that a combined , new deployment of police , social welfare , mental health and other agencies is needed in Nightcliff as it is a focal point for a large area . Drive by policing is emphatically not working . What is laughably called the dry areas legislation is also not working. The graffiti on the old building at the back of the Nightcliff Woolworth’s shopping centre grows daily, one of its messages being FUCK DA POLICE , which has been in place for more than a year . Doors have been bashed in and there is widespread litter in the area.


There could be blood on the cutting room floor over the performance of the NT Film Office (NTFO ) which distributes about $250,000 to the film/television/multimedia industry. Complaints have been made to senior bureaucrats , the Chief Minister and no less than three Arts Ministers about alleged shortcomings in the NTFO model . On the face of the criticism , a terrifying re-enactment of the shower scene from Psycho could be in the offing.

A recent large bone of contention was the way a Visioning Project (VP) to define the way forward for NTFO was drawn up , and the failure to let the industry know its outcome. In a scene from Yes, Minister, this report is being tweaked by public servants before going to the latest Arts Minister, Gerry McCarthy.

The Visioning Project was conducted by Doug McNamara , a Canadian based international consultant, selected by the NTFO executive officer, Penelope McDonald. The terms of reference were drawn up without input by the NT industry. Despite reservations, the industry association, which goes under the Hitchcock- like horror movie acronym, FATANT , has not been given a copy of the report upon which to comment.

Indeed, a claimed lack of consultation by the NTFO was a major criticism voiced in the VP exercise. FATANT members say that criticism apparently fell on deaf ears ,or ,like that Hollywood epic, has Gone With the Wind. Not once, the VP was told, since the NTFO’s inception , five years ago, had the FATANT committee been able to sit down with the executive officer, based in Alice Springs, to discuss the industry or the NTFO direction for industry development . The idea of consultation seemed to be a variation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s- “ a quick cup of coffee or a phone call ” with individuals , “chats” rarely of a specific nature .

On September 16, a Screen Grants Funding Program was launched by the NTFO in Alice Springs. A release said the launch would give the screen industry the opportunity to hear first hand what funding would be available in 2009/10 and include the announcement of some “ exciting ” initiatives resulting from the Visioning Project . The Alice launch went ahead despite protests by FATANT to senior bureaucrats and Arts Minister Gerry McCarthy that there had been no consultation on the outcomes of the VP. As it turned out , there had been little change from the NTFO activities of previous years. The industry, however, was pleased that travel grants were re-introduced, made available to successful applicants to attend industry events deemed worthy by the NTFO. One of the worthy events to attract NTFO funding is the Asia Australia Media Executive Leadership Program , Singapore , in November. NTFO is offering two Territory producers or executives $10,000 each to attend the Singapore program run by Doug McNamara who conducted the VP for NTFO.

In a strange decision, a grant was made prior to the September 16 announcement in Alice to an event not listed as worthy by NTFO. Some weeks earlier, another industry participant inquired about travel grants and was told they were not yet available .The inference being they would have to wait until the program launch. Two FATANT applications for NTFO funding this year were rejected .


Astounding comments have been made this week in the office of a minister who is expected to come under mortar fire in the first real sitting of the Legislative Assembly under the Gerry Wood takeover . Little Darwin understands the minister claims his department misled him and left him like a stunned bunny in the shooter's spotlight . Actually , he said he had been "l**d to ". As a result , there has been a minor shake up in the department and people are likely to be moved and asked to give an account of their performance. The minister is expected to wear a designer label flak jacket into the Assembly. Incoming mail and visits from angry voters should force him to stand up in the Assembly, possibly on camera ,so he had better wear make up to avoid looking green about the gills, and make an extraordinary statement for the record.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Talent scouts from Channel 9's Hey Hey it's Saturday are delighted by two Territory politicians who perform rib tickling skits at the Royal Darwin Hospital . The duo has been compared with the great slapstick team of Abbott and Costello as they cavort about RDH and the oncology unit which is under construction.

Their recent hilarious TV performance in which they re-enacted the birth of Frankenstein on a new operating theatre table at RDH had onlookers in stitches and callipers. Unfortunately, the pollie playing Frankenstein failed to come to life because there was a power blackout and the monster could not be zapped with 20,000 volts. A Channel 9 PR told Little Darwin this morning that the politicians are certain to win the Red Faces competition which is watched by 3 million viewers , including a host of cane toads. A win would make them more popular in Darwin media circles than crocodiles, aliens from outer space, g-string eating dogs and assorted leading boofheads.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Disregard the media hooha suggesting former Prime Minister Howard is going to head rugby league in Australia . Little Darwin has an exclusive scoop : Little Johnny is to become a rodeo clown , saving buckjumpers from rampaging bulls and snorting brumbies . Wearing a bright red Akubra hat , padded pink pantaloons and size 15 floppy shoes, he will become a star attraction on the rodeo circuit.

The Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach convinced Mr Howard he would be more popular than Buffalo Bill if he became a rodeo clown. Mrs Howard is understood to be right behind the new career for her husband as he will bring home a meat tray and a pair of ears from each rodeo.

Shocked residents in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Wollstonecraft rang police when they saw Mr Howard, fearing he was a smelly tramp, going for his early morning power walk in a rodeo clown outfit instead of his baggy green and gold Australian tracksuit . Dogs howled, pussies climbed high trees and refused to come down , the milkman’s horse bolted and postmen fell from their bikes in droves. Men in white coats with long- handled nets chased Mr Howard as he flip- flopped along the streets , causing mayhem on the roads.
He will be seen tempting fate and fierce imported Spanish bulls at a rodeo in Darwin next week. Many local clowns will cheer him on as he shuffles around the ring chased by enraged animals . Peter Costello is expected to attend every rodeo at which his beloved former leader acts the clown .
Should Mr Howard be gored by a Texan longhorn while in Darwin he can renew contact with Dr Notaras at the Royal Darwin Hospital as they used to have each other's telephone number .

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Little Darwin drew attention to the unsatisfactory experiences a friend had travelling from Adelaide to Darwin on the Ghan in the Red Service , the cheapest fare . These included a clapped out old carriage with a wash basin that fell open and refused to close back into position, dreary food and a frivolous attendant . She, a seasoned traveller within Australia and overseas , said she would never recommend the Ghan to anyone.

Just this week, our attention was drawn to a series of articles written by one Archie Bevan about the Top End which included a trip from Adelaide to Darwin aboard the Ghan in the Red Service section . At the end of the trip , two hours late, a member of the railway staff told passengers in Red Service he hoped to see them again “ on another of Great Southern Railways’ wonderful journeys.” The carriage erupted with jeers and the leader of a group of English ladies shouted:” Our country has the world’s worst trains , but this beats them all.” Bevan speculated that the way the train was locked up at night , floor and other lighting turned off, with so many people sleeping on the floor , this could cause a dangerous situation in the event of a derailment and carriages were thrown on their sides.

While in Darwin , Bevan had a good look at the place and , in an unfortunate choice of words, said the Chief Minister’s office “is the nerve centre of the gas action.” In fairness, it must be said he used the expression in the context of the economic impact of oil and gas projects on Darwin


An extraordinary amount of media attention and respect is given to people inducted into various Halls of Fame - actors, musicians, singers , sporting stars, scuba divers , etc. However, one Hall of Fame worthy , long associated with the NT , was recently given what amounted to an inglorious bum’s rush by local mugwumps. We refer to Professor Margaret Davy , the visiting Adelaide based gynaecological oncologist , an internationally regarded specialist in the treatment of cancer in women , who has been performing outstanding service in the NT for a score of years.

In 2006 , she was the only woman in 13 experts inducted into the Reproductive Hall of Fame for raising the national profile of cancers that affect women. At the time she said public awareness could lead to earlier detection and better treatment outcomes. “I guess I’ve done a fair amount of the pioneering work to have women’s cancer put on the political agenda and the health agenda so that women are more aware of their bodies and the ways in which they can access care for themselves .” It is , of course, an insane fantasy , but wouldn’t it be nice if the Reproductive Hall of Fame experts could devise a magical way to travel back in time and prevent the begetting of certain uppity growths which perform like grand panjandrums?


Speculation is rife about who will be the next NT Commissioner of Police . At least two applicants for the job are expected from South Australia. There seems to be little chance of any serving Territory police officer getting the top spot. Don’t be surprised if somebody from the Australian Federal Police throws his hat into the ring .

The former Victorian Police Commissioner ,Christine Nixon , will not be an entrant because of her deep involvment in the tragic bushfires aftermath. Mind you, a commissioner with experience about firefighting in other states would be a decided advantage here in the Territory.

On the subject of comings and goings, there appears to be another looming departure from the Chief Minister’s Department with the advertisement for a director of Asian relations and trade section . The director’s remuneration package is $183,862. Present director is Brendan Doran, a former senior career officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who has had widespread experience in Bangkok, Madrid, Nepal ,Tehran and Micronesia which included time with the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville .

In March this year the Charles Darwin University and the NT Government approved plans for what is called the Australian and Global Connections plan so that both parties can enhance trade , business and investment links , particularly with China, the ASEAN region and Timor- Leste . The governance structure envisaged Brian O’Gallagher, executive director of the Chief Minister's Department major projects division, as the NT Government team leader and Brendan Doran the director .

Monday, October 5, 2009


If anybody doubts that glib PR and financial jargon bedevil humanity, then they should read Darwin City Council Sister City minutes. QUESTION: What is the stated goal of the Sister City connection with Timor -Leste ? You might think it is to help a nation which for nearly a quarter of a century was torn apart by brutal invaders, which as a result produced dire social problems, poor infrastructure, limited government services, high unemployment, etc. No, according to the DCC minutes, involvement with Dili is to : “PROMOTE BRAND DARWIN. ”
In each of the sister city relations the funding appears to be a mere $4000. There is talk of a Timor-Leste peanut paste project in which mash impregnated with vitamins and minerals could be used to combat widespread malnutrition . Malawi in Africa has such a scheme. The minutes do not make it clear the project is actually in swing as it says it would increase production of local peanuts . There is talk of an email having been received seeking assistance “in sourcing” basic equipment to make the paste. “This has since happened,” the report continues , which again is not exactly clear as to its meaning. The council plans to bring to Darwin a person from the Dili District Sanitation Department for a two week waste management course. The stated goal in all of the sister cities is the same : PROMOTE BRAND DARWIN .

The DCC is investigating whether or not it should sign a Friendship agreement with the Dongfang Municipal Government . Their letter , in Chinese , is being translated so that the DCC will know exactly what Dongfang is proposing . There is talk of exchanges and economic trade. Another point of interest, to be clarified, is mention of sealing in concrete a road from Lao Ou village to a soldiers’ memorial, a distance of 800 metres , for $US600,000.

An item of interest is that a Chinese tutor may be engaged for Darwin High School under the Federal government scheme to promote Asian languages .

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Good to see the Weekend Australian arrive early yesterday instead of in the afternoon . At $4.40 a copy , it should be delivered to the door in a stretch limo along with a bottle of Grange Hermitage.

A pleasing feature of the weekend revamped Australian newspaper is that columnist Phillip Adams has been brought from the rear of the magazine to the front of the book . For one terrible moment , turning to the back of the magazine , I felt the unspeakable had happened, Adams had been dropped. He is worth his weight in gold and genuine Egyptian antiquities. Not so the Australian’s Christopher Pearson, who reads increasingly like the reincarnation of Bob Santamaria in his pontifications , suited more for readers of the Opus Dei Monthly who go in for self- flagellation.

Apart from his writings , Adams's presentation of Late Night Live on the ABC is masterful His quips, such as the ones that Colonel Gaddafi of Libya seems to have had the same plastic surgeon as Michael Jackson and that the estimable Dame Leonie Kramer had been the Nullarbor Nymph , though cheeky , delight.

Replaying of classic interviews with guests is most edifying , particularly the recent disturbing one with French intellectual, Bernard –Henri Levy , about his searing book dealing with the 2002 kidnap and beheading of the Wall Street Journal’s South Asian Bureau Chief, Daniel Pearl . Levy’s on air comments about the Pakistan secret service, Afghanistan and the motivation of key players in the area should be closely studied by Australian political leaders , especially as the West seems inexorably drawn into a quagmire in Afghanistan . The safety and protection of our defence forces demands that we tread very carefully . Though Levy’s interview took place in 2003 , his comments are pertinent to the present and could even be reflected in the attitude of President Obama towards Afghanistan and the Iranians.

One final point . Peter Costello recently complained about the so called ABC bias and mentioned Phillip Adams in particular , branding him as really a Labour mouthpiece. The ABC’s Counterpoint radio show had not balanced the bias , he moaned, yet again screwing up his kisser. The sooner Costello gets himself to a nunnery the better.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Readers will undoubtedly brand me a braggart when I use a megaphone to alert the world that I was once told that I could be the next Henry Lawson. This flattering utterance was delivered by a journalist, in a Sydney pub, who was actually related to thirsty Henry Lawson , whose stories and poems about the bush used to be a quintessential part of the European Dreamtime . The person massaging my ego was a household name at the time. The rebel publishing enterprise he co- founded had massive sales and took the mickey out of the establishment , clergymen ranted about him from pulpits , saying he should be flogged, various politicians denounced him. The walls of his house were covered with Australian art. He’d had a spot of bad luck - somehow , he pranged his Mercedes sportscar near the Journalists’ Club .

As I say, the venue for his declaration of my writing genius took place in a boozer frequented by News Limited scribes when I was on a visit from Darwin . My talented drinking companion was in a relaxed, reflective state of mind . His eyes were glassy and he was wrestling with an unruly , unlit cigar, which he was trying to insert in his tonsils and adenoids , it progressively crumbling and falling into his beer. In that philosophical condition , he knew a literary giant when his eyes eventually focused on one -moi, Henri Lawson 11.

We swapped notes and jokes about workers, world leaders and wankers . From my satchel of oddities, I plucked an account of the time President Lyndon Johnson , who reckoned dogs loved to be swung around by their ears, said Jerry Ford, who became another dynamic US president like George Dubya , could not fart and think at the same time . Other journalists joined us and one noticed I had a bundle of books bought at a warehouse sale . He asked if I had turned into a book thief due to my time in the tropics . So , in a short space of time, I went from a potential Aussie literary genius to a troppo book thief. Such is life.

Friday, October 2, 2009


The sulphurous row in Coalition ranks over the proposed ETS now resembles a Sumo wrestling match set in Dante’s Inferno . While the very survival of mankind is tied up with overcoming global warming , the conservatives are slapping and pushing each other, both publicly and in secret.

Whatever the outcome of the pat – a - cake contest , Malcolm Turnbull’s days are surely numbered . How a doer like Turnbull can stand leading the back -biting rabble is hard to understand .( The previous incumbent , Brendan Nelson , said six of the party tried to do him in each day .) Turnbull may well be the next one in the conservatives to pack up his tent and depart . Describing some of his party critics as smartarses shows that he is prepared for a banzai attack. The fact that Turnbull has put his leadership on the line is a clear indication of his exasperation with the outfit which by no stretch of the imagination can be described as a team. Should he be rolled, he will depart politics faster than Superman. After his departure, like General Charles de Gaulle, there would indeed be a deluge, a veritable shower as people scramble for positions of dubious power. Take your pick : gaseous Joe Hockey, the Mad Monk, Bronwyn who always wanted to be PM, somebody who has a double breasted suit , bushy eyebrows and looks and sounds like Pig Iron Bob.

Back to the future signs are already emerging within conservative forces as they rabbit on about the golden days of Tampa , the Pacific solution , border security, reds under the futon , divine right to rule , proud record of laisser- faire government- like a painted ship on a painted ocean .

Thursday, October 1, 2009


NEW YORK: Skippy is hopping mad over the NT Health Department’s cruel decision to hire notorious biffer , Boosh, the ugly boxing kangaroo , to clear the massive mob of wallabies from the Tindal RAAF base.

There are so many wallabies hopping about Tindal that it looks like a rabbit warren during Spring- time in the Rockies and aero medical flights are prevented from using the runway . With criticism mounting over the NT Government’s failure to solve the problem, the desperate Minister for Marsupial Birth Control, Don Scissorfinger, ordered the Health Department to call in Boosh to go the knuckle on the fecund wallabies before the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly . ( See previous post on this subject. )

As a result, a large number of wallabies have turned up at the new Katherine shopfront police station to complain about the brutal hit man from south. Little Darwin's Big Apple correspondent says Skippy is outraged that NT authorities adopted such a brutal and time wasting approach to the Tindal problem. A quicker and more humane solution was self evident : mass hypnotism .

The Tindal wallaby horde could be driven en masse – like lemmings-over the Katherine Gorge cliffs into the river- a la Jedda movie ending. Skippy told Little Darwin that he fled to America for hormone treatment at the Mayo Clinic after a documentary , quoting a giggling Aboriginal busker at Circular Quay , revealed to the macho Australian nation that our TV hero- Skippy- was actually a female !!!.

Thankfully, the miraculous Yankee medical treatment has dried up Skippy’s pouch and he now talks in a deep baritone like Wilson Tuckey . Next week, our crazy , mixed up national icon, Skippianna , aka Skippy , will play the gumleaf for President Obama , his family, and pet dog , in the White House rose garden.


Treasurer Delia Lawrie recently laid the economic facts of life on the line when she said further public service wage increases must be limited to no more than 2.5 per cent. In addition, she urged departments to reduce unnecessary expenditure, the hiring of expensive consultants and interstate trips .

Little Darwin understands the head of an important service, which has called in a consultant or two to discover the obvious deficiencies in his outfit , is in trouble for making an astonishing statement. In a rant at one of his staff, he claimed to have placed a vital part of his manhood on the economic chopping block to keep the show running . While this outburst may sound like great devotion to duty under fiscal fire , deserving a gold star stamp from Treasurer Lawrie, it also causes the average male to wince and hold back tears considering removal of that part of his anatomy .