Thorny News Update


I hope this newsletter finds you well. 

There's some really important public submission processes happening at the moment that we are asking ALEC members and supporters to contribute to. Here at ALEC we do our best to respond to all of the proposals that require comment (and advocacy for our environment!) - but at the end of the day we are one organisation, and the power lies in many voices being actively engaged in the process.

At a local level, submissions are due this Friday on the proposal for a nuclear waste dump at Hale (Aridgold Date Farm) 75kms south of Alice Springs. It is crucial you make your voices heard now against this proposal. If the Hale site gets shortlisted due to lack of dissent, then we will have a much bigger challenge ahead to stop it. Please make a short submission today.

At a state level, public comment is being sought for the NT governments Balanced Environment Strategy. This document seeks to set a framework for managing the Territory's environment - it has no mention of climate change and has a focus on streamlining processes for corporate projects.

At a Federal level public submissions are being sought with regard to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal which our government will be signing up to shortly. There is a lot of concern about the TPP, in particular that global corporations will not have to adhere to our environmental laws.

Also the Senate Select Committee is conducting a review of unconventional gas mining in Australia with a focus on ‘The adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining…’. Please see the Central Australian Frack Free Alliance update below for details on how to make a submission.

Public comment and submissions are one of the few ways we can advocate for the protection of our environment. Take 15 minutes to make a short submission on each today.

Keep well,

ALEC Communications and Campaigns Manager

Take Action!

Nuclear Waste Dump Submissions due 11th March

Making your submission
Make a submission regarding to the Federal Government re this proposal and please let your local state and federal MPs and councils know that you are concerned. 

SAMPLE LETTER:  Feel free to use the letter below to make your submission.  Pick and choose the bits you like and personalise it by adding your own.
Comments can be lodged via email to:
Submit your comments via an online form:
Postal lodgements should be sent to:
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Attn: National Radioactive Waste Section
GPO Box 9839
Canberra ACT 2601
Find the federal government plan here 

Sample Letter:
To: The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Attn: National Radioactive Waste Section
Re: The proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility
I am writing to alert you of my grave concerns about the proposal to build a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at: Hale - Northern Territory, Lot 1933 Old South Road, Hale 

I believe the process used to select these sites is highly-flawed and undemocratic. I do not believe that the serious matter of handling Australia’s national nuclear waste should be put down to a commercial, profit –driven process where local land-owners are offered bonanza land prices to sell their land for the facility while surrounding community members are left to respond.  This is not the science based, rational process behoving a matter of such significant national concern.
While are communities are told of $10million benefit they will receive for accepting the facility, no plan for the 400 year management required for this facility has been offered.   Indeed, a major flaw of this plan is the lack of disclosure around what is to be housed in the facility and how.  The government has been constantly referring to the proposed facility as a low-level waste store when in fact it will serve indefinitely as a facility for intermediate level waste, including spent reactor fuel.
It is also clear that messaging that this facility is necessary for Australia to continue to have nuclear medicine is propaganda, not fact.  Professional health associations such as the Public Health Association of Australia and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War clearly dispute this.
Each region with a nominated site has significant social, environmental and economic concerns about the proposal.  Some of these are listed below.
  • Process:  A de-facto confidential commercial tendering process where an individual is set to make a great profit and the surrounding community is given then given an opportunity to respond:
    • Failure to disclose how community sentiment will be assessed or weighted
    • Failure to define community or stakeholder
    • Divisive tactics and now proven to cause serious social disharmony and division.
    • Imbalance of power in messaging: Failure to provide non-biased discussion of issues. 
    • Potential for coercion in offering of funding for communities and community groups
    • False messaging of need for site for nuclear medicine
    • Frequent misleading messaging of site being mainly for medical waste
  • Remoteness and location of sites: Transportation of nuclear waste over long distances to reach several of the sites raises serious concerns about the expertise to deal with the waste and potential accidents and contamination along the route.
  • Livelihood: Operation of a waste facility could spoil many of the regions’ reputations as tourist destinations, agricultural areas and pastoral lands for domestic use and export
  • Cultural significance of sites:  Failure to acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the Traditional Owners of this country  and that Aboriginal heritage for each site needs to be considered even if this is not required under legislation.
  • Health and wellbeing:  The division in some communities that is affecting people's mental health and the cohesion of the town. Offering funding for infrastructure upgrades in exchange for hosting of nuclear waste is not acceptable. 
  • Water contamination: A radioactive facility poses a potential threat of contamination to ground water used by humans and livestock. Many areas in Australia depend heavily on groundwater for basic survival and these precious resources should not be put at risk. 
  • Escalating risk: Concern that an approved national waste dump may provide an opening for the storage of higher-grade waste. This is particularly of concern in South Australia due to the Royal Commission examining the costs and benefits of international high-level waste storage and recommending in the Tentative Findings that it go ahead. Current government assurances cannot be trusted as future governments have the power to change the rules.

I support the communities of the 6 nominated sites in believing that the best option would be to scrap all of these six sites and halt the current National Radioactive Waste Management Project.  An independent inquiry should be held to look at all the ways this material could be managed.
Australia needs a comprehensive, long-term radioactive waste management plan. This should include an inventory of current waste including waste expected to re-enter Australia, all the options for locating and managing current and future stockpiles, as well as a plan to stop making more.
I call on you to immediately stop the process aimed at siting a National Radioactive Waste Facility at any of the nominated sites. It is time for the government to take stock of its nuclear waste and to develop a long-term management plan for low and intermediate waste which involves responsible, democratic and community-centered stewardship of this waste for the hundreds of years it will need to be safeguarded.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding my submission.
Thank you. 
Email address: 

More information:
Nuclear Waste in Australia - A Few Home Truths

Balanced Environment Strategy public comment due 18th March

The NT Government Balanced Environment Strategy Discussion Draft can be viewed and downloaded here

Feedback can be provided by a short survey.

Provide a move detailed comment on any aspect of the draft Balanced Environment Strategy, by writing to

Trans Pacific Partnership Submissions due 11th March

The Turnbull government is accepting submissions on the Trans Pacific Partnership -- the trade deal that reads like a corporate wish list. 

Of biggest concern is that environmental standards are not enforceable by global corporations and there is no mention of climate change!!

Please, can you take 2 minutes to make a quick, easy submission via the Sumofus website, telling our government to reject the TPP once and for all? Go to 

To find out more information about the details of the TPP click here


EcoFair wins National Science Week grant

desertSMART EcoFair has been named as one of 41 national recipients of National Science Week grant funding in an announcement by Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne last week.
“We are pleased to officially announce that desertSMART EcoFair has won $20,000 in funding from National Science Week. This is the fifth year that EcoFair has been supported by National Science Week, and it acknowledges the ongoing role that EcoFair has in educating the community around science and sustainability in Central Australia,” said Jimmy Cocking, Director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
“Living in remote arid Australia presents a number of challenges, and also provides us with a unique opportunity to work together as a community to solve issues around energy, water, waste, food, transport and planning in the arid lands. There is a lot of innovation in Central Australia, and the EcoFair provides an opportunity to showcase this. It also facilitates great community discussion,” said Mr Cocking.
Despite funding cuts to organising body, The Arid Lands Environment Centre, the 2016 EcoFair program will see the event expand across multiple venues over the weekend of 12th-14th August including Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, Alice Springs Community Garden, Earth Sanctuary and Alice Springs Desert Park. 
“For the event to continue into the future, the EcoFair is seeking new community partnerships, new sources of funding and committed community volunteers to bring the event into fruition,” said Mr Cocking. “It is a large organisational task and ALEC needs broader community, business and government support to ensure that we can continue sharing knowledge about living the smartest, most efficient ways we can in the desert.”

To become an EcoFair organising volunteer email

Local school students with EcoFair ambassador Costa Georgiadis

Position Vacant - Green Army Project Supervisor

Climate Working Group Meeting 8.3.16

Thanks to those who attended the first climate working group meeting this year.

Identified local climate campaigns:
The group identified three campaigns to work on in the next few months:
1. Transition Alice Springs to solar/renewable energy
  • Campaign to reverse the recent announcement by the NT Government to inject $100 million into the Alice Springs and Tennant Creek gas-fired power stations - which effectively locks our towns into a fossil fuelled energy future.
  • Lobby NT and Federal government to invest in the transition to solar and renewable energy.
  • Assist local community members and businesses to make the transition to solar, including local schools.
2. A local divestment campaign
  • Develop a local divestment campaign, culminating in an end of financial year local divestment event (June 30th/July 1st)
3. Engage young people on climate
  • Supporting young people to become active citizens and engage on climate issues.
  • Potentially re-invigorate a local Australian Youth Climate Coalition Group

If you would like to be on the working group email list or get involved email

Climate Working Group participants engaged in a Market Forces divestment webinar at the first meeting.

ALEC Solar Discussion Evening 10.3.16

Efergy Solar In House Displays

Ogden Power is selling and installing new In House Displays where you can view it on an app on your phone. Unfortunately the PWC Alice Solar City ones are defunct and being closed down and will need to be discarded in the same way you would a mobile phone. 

The new Efergy ones have been tested by Ogden and is thought to be the best option going forward. Ogden have committed to donating $7 from the sale of every unit to ALEC.

Ogden's details are:
Phone:   08 8953 4211                                                                      
Mobile:  0429 675 620
Office:   1 Stokes Street, Alice Springs, NT 0870

Earth Hour at the Community Garden 19.3.16


Sustainable Science Trail Launch

Last week the Sustainable Science Trail was launched at Adelaide house.

The Sustainable Science Trail uses smartphone technology to give visitors an extended or interactive experience at participating locations around Alice Springs.

“By pressing a button on your smartphone a list of nearby sites appear on the screen - and visitors can learn more about a particular point of significance – or even contribute data to a survey or quiz. It’s easy and fun - and adds a new dimension to the experience we can offer our visitors”, says Scott Pullyblank, Director of Life Sciences, Alice Springs Desert Park. 

A working group of local organisations have developed a range of interactive experiences and will be monitoring participation and the results over the next six months. The five initial sites that are part of the Sustainable Science Trail are: Alice Springs Desert Park; Olive Pink Botanic Garden; Desert Knowledge Solar Centre; Alice Springs Community Garden and Adelaide House.

 “The technology that we are working with is quite new. GPS is great but it isn’t always accurate and it can’t be used indoors. So we are working with a new app called Sites and Trails NT which uses proximity beacons to pinpoint exhibits or points of interest precisely” says Edan Baxter of technical solutions company, Spinifex Valley.

“Adelaide House is a site of incredible heritage value – not just to Alice Springs, but to Australia. We are hoping that this technology will help us get visiting school students through the door to learn about some of the great scientific innovations that have come out of Central Australia”, says Steve Bevis of the Uniting Church.

“Alice Springs is a world class destination for its natural environment– so why not showcase local innovation and sustainability initiatives too?” says Jimmy Cocking, Director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre and working group member.

Sustainable Science Trail sites are listed online via Interactive activities can be accessed by download the “Sites and Trails NT” app on the AppStore or Playstore.

The working group is presently seeking expressions of interest from other local organisations who are interested in trialling and extending this new technology further.

The working group acknowledges the support of Inspiring Australia and the Australian Government who provided the seed funding for this initiative.

Food for Alice Every Saturday at ALEC

ALEC at Clean Up Australia Day

Thanks to ALEC staff and board members, and all of the community volunteers, who took part in Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday 6th March organised by the Alice Springs Town Council. It was a great community event, and a great opportunity to put some energy back into the beautiful Todd River.

The rubbish we picked up most: plastic bottle tops, broken glass, take away food wrappings and containers.

ALEC Volunteer Anita Tromp Wins Silver Bilby Award

We have been very lucky to have a fantastic volunteer Anita Tromp assist ALEC over the last year with some essential administration tasks. Anita recently has been awarded the ALEC Silver Bilby Award to acknowledge her volunteering commitment. Thanks Anita!

Central Australian Frack Free Alliance

CAFFA Kicks-off Gasfield Free Community Surveying! 
On Saturday afternoon CAFFA members hit the streets to survey community members about whether they support Central Australia to be shale ‘gasfield free’.

The ‘gasfields free’ community surveying strategy is a unique community democracy process that enables local people to survey their communities in a systematic way about their views towards fracking in the area, building networks & informing people as they go. Already there are 2 survey’s that have been completed in the NT – Batchelor & Adelaide River, with Mataranka also currently underway.
In Alice Springs the survey has commenced in East Side with other suburbs soon to follow!

Our awesome team of volunteers hit the streets on Saturday!!

It’s not too late to get involved! We are still recruiting interested people to help in this fun initiative – no experience necessary! If you are interested in being part of this exciting initiative please get in touch with Barb at:

Scaremongering in Response to Sensible Approach to Fracking
Last week has seen backlash in the media against the responsible position demonstrated by NT Labor to instate a moratorium (or temporary halt) on fracking operations until appropriate regulations are in place and research is clear on the impacts of fracking on our communities (including health impacts).
One company which undertook 2 fracking operations last year, Pangaea, has advised it is halting operations due to the uncertainty caused by the potential moratorium which will result in job losses. Interestingly though, across Australia, oil and gas companies are winding down due to lower global prices, and tens of thousands of jobs are already being slashed from the struggling industry in other states. 
In the NT fracking operators have already scaled back operations due to the low oil price, only drilling 6 sites instead of their planned 25. So it seems the moratorium is a convenient excuse for Pangaea to scale back operations which may not turn the profit they intended.  
We need to keep up community pressure for a moratorium in the face of the Giles Government scare mongering to ensure our communities are not put at risk. 
Pipeline Viability in Question 
Interestingly, despite the NT Government initially saying that the pipeline would not require fracked gas, Jemena, the company responsible for developing it also responded negatively to the moratorium announcement saying it would cast doubt on it’s commercial viability. 
While indicating the pipeline could still be built under the moratorium Jemena’s concern is that it won’t commercially viable to make it as large as possible without opening the Territory up for fracking. At community consultations last year Jemena representatives told members of CAFFA that the pipeline would not require fracking and was intended for conventional gas from existing reserves.  
Senate Inquiry into Unconventional Gas Mining in Australia – make your voice heard!! 
The Senate Select Committee is conducting a review of unconventional gas mining in Australia with a focus on ‘The adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining…
This is an historic opportunity to get a national spotlight on the impacts of unconventional gas mining on human health, food production and the environment. More information on the review, including the full Terms of Reference, can be found here.

Public input into the review can be made via email to or at this online submission portal. For a guide to what to include in your submission see here.
Can You Help?! Data Entry Support Needed!! 
Not everyone has time to come to regular meetings but we need all the help we can get on the campaign! Can you volunteer 1-2 hours a week to help us with data entry? No experience necessary for this very easy work! Please get in touch at
Get Involved – Come to our Next Meeting!!
Our next campaign meeting for the year will be held Monday 21 March at 5:30pm at the ALEC Office – 90 Gap Rd (cnr of Kraegen St & Gap Rd – Opposite Pigglys Grocery).
Tanya Hall
 Frack Free Coordinator
Central Australian Frack Free Alliance

Beyond Nuclear Initiative

Ten years strong!

Beyond Nuclear Initiative has just reached its ten year milestone! BNI originally had campaigners based in Alice Springs, Darwin, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, as well as a small grants project. As funding arrangements changed, the work became concentrated in the NT and then finally in Alice Springs. BNI is a joint project of Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth Australia and one position has been hosted by the Arid Lands Environment Centre since March 1, 2006. We would like to thank ALEC members, board and staff who have been so supportive throughout this time.

BNI has proudly been involved in struggles across the NT and country to stop expansion of the nuclear industry and work toward a nuclear free future. Highlights include stopping the proposed uranium exploration at Angela Pamela near Alice Springs and the proposed national radioactive waste facilities at Mt Everard, Harts Range, Fishers Ridge, Muckaty and in the Tanami. BNI has held a position on the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance Committee for many years and continues to advocate for an end to the radioactive racism inherent in the nuclear industry's operations.

We are now involved in the campaigns against proposed nuclear waste dump at six sites across the country and tracking the SA Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle that has recommended in its interim findings that an international high level nuclear waste dump be built in SA. To keep in touch with BNI's work, check out the facebook page or sign up for updates to the blog

Canberra lobbying trip discussing nuclear waste sites

Last week BNI accompanied people from the six areas around the country currently being looked at the host the national radioactive waste dump on a lobbying trip to Parliament House in Canberra. This was the first time people from these areas had met face to face since the sites were announced and many new friendships and support networks have been built from the initiative. NT representatives were Reggie Kenny and Peter Kenny from Walkabout Bore and Loyola Jones from Oak Valley. A series of meetings and a successful press conference were held in Parliament House. Meetings included: PM Turnbull's adviser on Energy, Resources and Innovation; Australian Greens Senators; Senator Bill Heffernan; Ken Wyatt MP; Senator Penny Wong; and Senator Nick Xenaphon. There was also a chance meeting with opposition leader Bill Shorten in the corridors. Photos from the trip are at and the opening comments from the press conference are uploaded at

Six sites standing together

(L-R) SA delegates Sedale Miller and Regina McKenzie and NT delegates Loyola Jones, PK and Reggie Kenny. 

Loyola Jones addressing the media conference

Waste Dump Submissions due March 11

Public comments on the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility are due by this Friday March 11. More information and tips for making submissions can be found at The government consultation area for the Hale site includes Alice Springs (as the nearest 'service town') so the opinion of people in town will be considered by the Minister. We only recently stopped a radioactive waste dump being built at Muckaty (120km north of Tennant Creek)- make your voice heard on this current proposal to keep Central Australia free from nuclear waste.

Community Notices



Tomorrow is International Women's Day. ALEC would like to acknowledge the hard work of women in this community, as well as all over the world, who are trying to make the world a more fair, just, safe and sustainable place to live.

ALEC staff members, Carmel Vandermolen and Nicole Pietsch, and Frack Free Coordinator Tanya Hall.
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PO Box 2796 Alice Springs 0871 NT
Phone: 08 89522497