Thorny News Update


Working life is hectic here at ALEC with many different campaigns and activities on the go.  It's hard not to feel overwhelmed sometimes, and upset too when emotionally processing the decisions of the powers that be...for example this week the release of the NT budget which didn't mention climate change at all and has no new investment into protecting our environment or renewable energy initiatives! When countries like Germany and Portugal and now running for days at a time on complete renewable energy why aren't we seeing the same investment here?

What I have to constantly remind myself that change is happening all across the globe, that many people are working together to make it happen, and even though here in the NT it feels like we are going backward change is still happening too. I am so grateful to be part of the ALEC team who works really hard to drive new initiatives and engage the community on a range of issues.

We have our first fundraising event, One World, coming up on Saturday 4th June in the Page 27 lane way for World Environment Day. With no ongoing operational funds, it is critical we continue to fundraise so please come along and support this event. We need some door and bar volunteers - can you help?

A big thank you to our cake making volunteers for last weeks' RePower Alice Springs/ALEC 1st birthday at the Gap event - Bernice, Bronwyn and Liz. 

It's election time, both Federally and in the Territory, and we really need to be pressuring our elected representatives to take greater action on climate. Writing a letter is one tool we have to voice our democratic concerns. ALEC will be listing all candidates in the next Thorny News.

Keep well,

ALEC Communications and Campaigns Manager

ALEC Federal Election Asks

1. Real action on climate change
  • Increased carbon emission reduction targets to at least 60% by 2030 and 100% before 2050.
  • Supportive policies for renewable energy investment.
  • Support for regional climate adaptation plans across the arid zone of Australia
2. Stronger environmental protection laws
  • Strengthen the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to include shale gas under the water trigger legislation (currently limited to coal seam gas)
  • Strengthen the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to include a climate trigger for projects with high carbon emissions.
  • Establish a national environment protection agency.
3. Inquiry into national radioactive waste management
  • Explore all options for permanent storage and management of Australia’s existing stockpiles of low and intermediate-level waste, while also exploring options for the future reduction of radioactive waste creation.
4. Increased funding for indigenous ranger programs
  • Make a federal commitment to resource Indigenous Protected Areas - most of which are in the arid zone.
5. Sustainable development for Northern Australia
  • Ensure that Northern Australian Development policies and tax-payer funded investments incorporate the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Vote for the Environment

Get active on World Environment Day. The Arid Lands Environment Centre is working with the Australian Conservation Foundation to get the environment on the Federal election agenda.

We all want our elected representatives to:

  • Support clean energy
  • Cut pollution
  • Protect our reefs, rivers, forests and wildlife.

Take the voter pledge and come along to get involved in this important election campaign. Together we are stronger. 

June 05, 2016 at 11am - 2pm

Arid Lands Environment Centre

90 Gap Rd
Alice Springs, NT 0870

Jimmy Cocking · 08 8952 2497 RSVP here

ALEC Fundraiser

Volunteers Needed:

Poster Run for this Friday/Saturday? Let us know if you can do it and we can drop the posters to you.

Door 9pm-11pm, 11pm-1am Bar 7pm-10pm, 10pm-1am. Please let us know if you can assist with which shift!

Performers include...

Karnage N Darknis

KND are a hip-hop duo from Alice Springs who have been writing and performing since 2008. Karnage (Tristrum Watkins) is a Western Arrernte man Hermannsburg (130km west of Alice Springs). Darknis (Corinna Hall) is a Ngarrindjera/Kokatha woman from Raukkan, South Australia and Ceduna.

Karnage was one of the first pioneers of hip-hop in Alice Springs, performing with Central Mob when he was a teenager. He left to study music at CASM in Adelaide, where he met Darknis through the Adelaide hip-hop music scene. Since those early years he seen the hip-hop scene in Alice Springs grow until it now hosts regular visiting international hip-hop acts.

The lyrics of their songs often involve Aboriginal land rights, social issues and everyday struggle. Their first hit was ‘Only Tha Strong Survive’ was the title track from their debut album released in 2010. Since then they have performed at events such as Dreaming Festival in Qld, Spirit Festival in Adelaide and Inala Festival in Brisbane. They have supported such artists as Paul Kelly, Coloured Stone, No Fixed Address, Archie Roach, Jessica Mauboy, as well as hip-hop legends like Naughty by Nature, Bone Thugs, Ja Rule, Scribe, Savage, K-rino and Outlaws.

King Marong and Bec Matthews

Delivering an irrepressible rhythmical energy and drawing on influences from across West Africa, from coastal Gambian highlife to deep Saharan Desert Blues, King Marong fuses the centuries old traditions of West Africa with contemporary styles, creating a vibrant blend of irresistible dance music.

From her early beginnings as a classical pianist, Bec Matthews has travelled a diverse and cosmopolitan musical path, which has lead to her to pursue her talents as a multi-instrumentalist, in particular the kora (21 string West African Harp). As an artist who crosses musical and cultural boundaries, Bec fuses her own original music with influences from traditional West African, Middle Eastern and World Fusion music.

Her original songs and music reflect Bec’s personal journey and worldview, echoing her extensive studies with West African musical masters and travels through remote Australia and elsewhere. Working closely with Gambian artist King Marong, Bec has been a dynamic and pivotal member of the ‘Safara Music School’ which enjoys a reputation for its uplifting and community-minded spirit. As a part of this project Bec has been involved in numerous exciting collaborations incorporating art and music, including drum making, drumming and dance, African story telling and interactive performance.


Peachy (Nicole Pietsch) is a long-term musical performer, artist, events organiser and a committed environmental and social activist, with her art reflecting her connection to country and her passion for the environment.
Peachy has a long history in the performing arts being an organising member of the Wide Open Space Festival, the Past Present Future Reconciliation event, the Environmental Awareness Raising Festival (Newcastle NSW), and The Pirate Festival (Tas) as well as a multitude of cabarets and art exhibitions.
She has performed in a number of bands including Stellar Sea, Twilight Divine, Desert Rain (Alice Springs), Peach and The Tree and The Boarding Party (Tas). 


"StoryTeller" - aka Glen Yearwood, is an intrepid storyteller, on a long journey to understand the ways and beliefs of First Nations peoples from around the world. He has an unmistakeable voice and will be sharing his stories at the One World fundraiser.

ALEC Media

Media Release Wednesday 25th May
NT budget black hole – no mention of climate or environment
The Northern Territory Government has demonstrated it is operating in a gas-fired echo chamber with no new investment into climate action or protecting the environment in the budget delivered yesterday.
“It’s totally astounding, that in 2016 when world leaders have agreed to try and limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees, there is no mention of climate in the NT budget, no investment into renewable energy and no further investment into ensuring the health of our environment,” said Jimmy Cocking, Director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
“What we see instead is $5.95 million of Territory tax payers’ money being allocated on gas ‘industry grants’ and ‘accelerated’ assessment of the Territory’s shale gas industry,” said Mr Cocking.
 “The NT Government needs to be looking forward, not backwards. The future will be powered by renewable energy. Stanford University lecturer Tony Seba has stated to energy investors in Australia this week that ‘within just 15 years conventional energy production and transport will have been rendered obsolete’, and ‘there is "no excuse" for any board of a utility in Australia not to know what's coming’. Is buying 10 new gas fired engines for Alice Springs really the way forward?” asked Mr Cocking.

“The best the NT government has come up with is $8.5M over two years for the Alice Springs smart grid trial, which is welcomed as at least a small positive step forward. However more details are required and it falls short of any meaningful investment into the kind of energy systems that need to be developed if we are to make the transition to renewable energy.”

“We need to the NT Government to take off the rose-coloured glasses supplied by the gas industry, and realise that it’s time we joined communities all over the world in making the transition to renewable energy. We need to see an NT Renewable Energy Policy developed immediately, and a strategy to start the transition. The sun is almost always shining in the NT, when are territory politicians going to wake up to this?” said Mr Cocking.

Media Release Tuesday 17th May
NT Government ‘Knowledge Territory’ A Fracking Carrot
The Giles CLP Government has stooped to a new low this week with the proposed 'Knowledge Territory' package. Chief Minister Giles' desperate attempt to link education funding to potential fracked gas royalties demonstrates how out of touch with the general public the CLP Government is.
“The NT Government's blind support for the gas industry is at the cost of everything else. While the world is moving to renewables, the CLP Government is backing fossil fuels and the industrialisation of our iconic NT landscapes. The energy future for Central Australia is in solar not gas, and without a comprehensive energy policy, the CLP Government continues to make ad hoc and damaging decisions,' said ALEC Director Jimmy Cocking.
“This announcement demonstrates that the CLP is willing to blackmail Territorians into accepting industrial fracking for gas to receive speculative educational benefits for their children. Education is a fundamental human right and should not be dependent on gas royalties,” Jimmy Cocking said.
“Despite the millions of dollars currently being spent by the Giles CLP Government on advertising for the gas industry, Territorians are not being fooled and dissatisfaction with the Giles government is evident,” said Jimmy Cocking.
“This election Territorians need to place the health of our environment and our families first. The examples coming from Queensland and the United States where industrial fracking for gas is established, show that the risk of fracking to our groundwater and community health are too important to ignore,'” said Jimmy Cocking.
Some social media comments from Adam Giles “Knowledge Territory” Facebook post:
Simon: Hmm, if Fracking is bastardized across the Territory then the students receiving the vouchers best be studying ways to clean contaminated water, resuscitate poisoned livestock, stop children from getting blood noses, etc, etc. OR we could source the funds elsewhere and not from the gas companies...just a thought!
Sue: Although not a Territorian I am an Australian. I look at this "initiative" as vote catching carrot. Does he think that the population are idiots and cannot see through this for what it is? 500 dollars will not provide a job, infrastructure in the solar energy area may. Now that turncoats pathway incentive has been ruled illegal they don't have much if anything for education.
Diana: Sell your soul for an election! How can you say you love the Territory, while racing to destroy it, Mr Giles?! Are these study vouchers being used on students like carrots to a donkey? It might help them in the short term, but they won't have a Territory worth working in if you allow fracking to occur to get these resources! For shame Mr Giles, for shame! 
Ali: Pennies for the poor!! Condescending joke - STOP FRACKING NOW!!!

RePower Alice Springs

Thanks to the 60 community members who attended the rePower Alice Springs community information night last Friday.

We have made a good impact in terms of raising the profile of solar energy in Alice Springs, and the lack of any planning with regard to renewable energy by our current government. However we acknowledge that we are starting off a new campaign and there is much work to be done in raising the profile of the group, and working out where to best place our focus.

We have a small working group who is meeting fortnightly to propel the campaign forward. Do you have some energy to contribute? 

Next Meetings:

Monday 6th June 5.30pm: Presentation to the ASTC Environmental Advisory Committee @ ASTC council chambers, all welcome. Energy expert Lyndon Frearson to also speak.

Monday 20th June 5pm-7pm @ ALEC 90 Gap Road

Thursday 28th July 6pm - Public Meeting Andy McNeil Room

RePower Alice Springs key demands:

Here is a reminder of what the groups key demands are:

We are calling on the Northern Territory Government to:
1. Commit to the transition from gas to renewable energy for the Alice Springs grid:
  • NT government to commit to 100% renewable energy supply by 2030.
2. Develop and implement a Solar Transition Plan for Alice Springs:
  • Engage stakeholders, experts, and community representatives in developing the solar transition plan.
  • Recognise that the solar transition will require a investment in network stability, including battery storage, to enable maximum penetration of solar power
  • Ensure that the solar transition maximises local job and training opportunities.
  • Ensure that solar technology and associated benefits are accessible to those in low-income households, rental properties and public housing.
  • Ensure that the three government-owned corporations; Jacana Energy, Territory Generation and Power and Water Corporation, are engaged and working together to support the implementation of the solar transition plan.
3. Suspend the full-installation of 10 new gas-fired generators at Owen Springs Power Station until the Solar Transition Plan has been developed: 
  • Ensure that all future energy infrastructure development supports the transition to 100% renewable energy supply by 2030
4. Develop an Energy Policy, which sets the vision and framework for the transition to renewable energy generation across the Territory, including:
  • A commitment to making a strong and fair contribution to Australia’s national emission reduction targets
  • Transition plans for each individual energy network across the Territory including Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Darwin
  • A green energy option for Territory electricity customers
  • A remote area strategy transitioning communities to renewable energy.
  • Ensure market access for commercial and community owned solar initiatives.
  • A focus on attracting investment for low-carbon energy infrastructure
 RePower Communications

Keep updated via Facebook:

Please express your views on transitioning Alice Springs to renewable energy as an immediate priority by writing letters to the editor Chief Minister Adam Giles  and opposition leader Michael Gunner 

Alice Springs Community Garden


ASCG Working Bees are every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month 8am -11am. Frances Smith Memorial Park, Bourke St. All welcome!

desertSMART EcoFair

Central Australian Frack Free Alliance
THIS SUNDAY - Results of the Old East-side Fracking Survey to be released!!
In February the CAFFA team started a door to door community survey of residents in old East-side to find out people’s views on fracking in Central Australia. After door-knocking well over 500 households over the past 3 months we are excited to announce that we will be launching the results on Sunday 29 May at 3:30pm at Gosse st Park, East-side. 
Come & help us celebrate this huge achievement & find out if Old East-side supports a 'gasfield free' Central Australia! The launch will be a family friendly event with kid’s activities & food to share! All welcome!

Water Warriors in Action! 

On Tuesday 17 May, as part of a national day of action to call for the protection of our water resources, 80 residents took the message to our Federal MP's Warren Snowden and Nigel Scullion. It was a great colourful community action!

Education held to Ransom in Giles’ Desperate Bid to sell onshore Gas Fracking to the community
The Chief Minister reached new lows last week announcing the “Knowledge Territory” initiative, promoting $500 education vouchers for students funded from royalty payments from onshore gas fracking. 
There are so many issues with this approach it’s hard to know where to start!
Firstly, commercially proven shale gas reserves yet to be confirmed at this stage, so making promises based on unknown royalty amounts is not a wise move. 
Secondly, the program is intended to commence in 2019, however the industry itself has said it will take 10 years before gas production commences and royalties would start to flow. So it is unlikely the industry will developed enough by 2019 for royalties to be significant enough to fund the package. 
Thirdly, expecting big royalties from fracked gas in the NT is a delusion - in QLD, royalties from the 6,000 unconventional gas wells drilled only delivered a quarter of the royalty funds expected.
Additionally, any meagre royalty payments from fracking companies in the NT are likely to be needed for repairing the damage the industry is known to cause to roads and public infrastructure, to clean up the pollution and legacy issues from thousands of fracked wells, and to deal with the negative social impacts of FIFO mining camps on regional and remote communities. 
Most alarmingly this is nothing short of blackmail to gain support for fracking! Would it not be wiser spending money creating local jobs in sustainable industries such as solar?! 

Are you a local filmmaker (or aspiring to be one..)?!
We would love to make some short films to help spread the word about fracking – are you handy with film editing (you don’t have to be an expert!) and can dedicate some time to help? Please get in touch!
Come to our next Meeting & Get Involved!
Please get in touch to find out more or come to our next meeting - Monday 30 May at 5:30pm at the ALEC Office – 90 Gap Rd (cnr of Kraegen St & Gap Rd – Opposite Pigglys Grocery).
Tanya Hall

Community Notices

FYI Media Articles...

'It's the end of energy and transportation as we know it': Tony Seba 

Within just 15 years conventional energy production and transport will have been rendered obsolete by the revolution taking place in batteries, solar power and electric cars.

The startling thesis by energy disruption guru and Stanford University lecturer Tony Seba has been around for a couple of years but after originally being dismissed as crazy, is now catching serious attention from investors.

There is "no excuse" for any board of a utility in Australia not to know what's coming, he says, outlining a world with little centralised power generation, 100 per cent electric vehicles and minimal private car ownership.

​"It's the end of energy and transportation as we know it, and it's coming very quickly," Mr Seba said at the start of a week of investor meetings in Australia.

"It's going to be over by 2030; it has started already."

Mr Seba's thesis is based on the transformation being wrought by four technologies: solar power, battery storage, electric vehicles and self-driving cars. The change will be as rapid and as unforeseen as the switch from horse-drawn carriages to cars in the early 20th century.

Mainstream forecasting bodies such as the International Energy Agency have it all wrong and are greatly underestimating the growth of solar power, says Mr Seba, who sees solar as close to a "tipping point" that will drive a super-exponential uptake in solar power similar to the experience with smartphones. 

Already, solar power costs have dropped from $US100 a watt to US45¢ a watt since 1970, a period when other forms of energy have surged in price 16-fold. That means solar's relative cost per unit of energy production has reduced by 1300 times relative to coal, to 3000 times relative to natural gas and nuclear, he says.

"You wonder if you're in energy, when do you lose sleep, when do you worry about disruption?" says Mr Seba, whose visit is being hosted by investor Arowana, whose biggest investment in its Australasian Value Opportunities Fund is wind power producer Infigen Energy.

Some oil companies are getting the message, he said, pointing to the recent €950 million acquisition by French oil major Total of battery maker Saft Groupe, and the new energies divisions of Shell and Norway's Statoil.

Mr Seba sees the tipping point for solar is when the cost of solar goes beyond "grid-parity", when unsubsidised rooftop solar generation undercuts power from the grid, to what he describes as "god parity", when it undercuts the cost of transmission and makes even zero-cost centralised generation redundant.

"At that point ... it is in every consumer's selfish consumer interest to put up solar panels on every available rooftop because for those hours of sunshine... central generation will never be able to compete with rooftop solar," he says. "Solar is going to eat everything."

For those hours when the sun is not shining, battery storage steps in, including power from electric vehicles which can be used as a power source. The use of large-scale power plants would be limited to providing extra electricity for cities, and for aluminium smelters, data centres and other plants.

Mr Seba's theory is based on the assumption that energy storage costs – for lithium-ion batteries for example – continues to drop at about 16 per cent a year, driving a replacement of power plants on the grid by energy storage and plunging prices for electric vehicles. 

He expects that by 2025, every new vehicle will be electric, with the remaining conventional car fleet to be rapidly wiped out as the self-driving car revolution disrupts transport and pushes the world towards car sharing and mobility-on-demand transport.

"People are just going to abandon their cars," he says, noting that Foxconn, the Chinese maker of the Apple iPhone, is targeting an EV priced at less than $US15,000.

Mr Seba's thesis means the elimination of 60 per cent of the global market for petroleum that is used in road transport.

The size of the car fleet will be slashed by 80 per cent, freeing up huge areas within cities currently dedicated to parking, with a knock-on impact on real estate prices. Private garages can be converted into  Airbnb guest rooms.

"It's not just about transportation. It's going to have a lot of ripple effects in a lot of adjacent industries," says Mr Seba, the founder and chief executive of B2B ecommerce site

​"This is not an energy transition. This is a technology disruption."

Mr Seba is not predicting a mass exodus from the power grid, but envisages the role of the distribution utility becoming "more like an Uber or an Airbnb", managing flows of power and transactions on the grid.

He says companies still investing in new centralised power plants and refineries are wasting money unless they can get a payback in less than 10 years.

"Usually when you invest in a thermal power plant you have a 30-40 year payback period," he says.

"Even if I'm wrong by a decade, there is no scenario where you can justify a 40-year, 30-year, 20-year payback for a thermal power plant. It's just not going to happen."

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PO Box 2796 Alice Springs 0871 NT
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