Thorny News Update


We hope this newsletter finds you well!

We get the feeling that everyone is feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment with the busyness of the Alice Springs winter, as well as feeling politically saturated by the Territory and Federal election campaigns. It seems harder at the moment to engage people in ALEC events and campaigns.

This is understandable! We live in a world where we are constantly blasted from all angles with information by the portable devices that deliver it all to us - who isn't overwhelmed?

Hard though for organisations like ALEC where sharing information is critical to catalysing change, and we exist in an environment where there are so many causes asking us to engage, donate and take action. How do we cut through it all?

We keep trying! After a bit of a stressful day yesterday I had to remind myself again that all we can do is our best. A lot of wracking of brains happens in the ALEC office as we strive to facilitate change and engage people, and sometimes if it feels like we are not getting through we also have to remind ourselves that it is not for lack of trying. 

In an environment where ALEC has no ongoing funding there is a very real pressure on our small community to keep giving. So many people already give so much in many different ways which is what I really admire about the active members of the Alice Springs community, but it also poses challenges for further engagement - how can we ask people to do more?

Life is precious as events in the last week remind us all. We need to honour this, spend time with our families, get out in nature, not be so busy. I find myself longing for life to slow down. Yet with the very real threat of runaway climate change we have to do more somehow. Our children will be inheriting the problems of our collective inaction. Change is happening but it needs to happen quicker, and we all need to be working together on this journey. Hang in there friends! The work that we all do does make a difference!

If you can at all support ALEC in our end of year financial campaign it would be greatly appreciated. If anyone has suggestions on how we can fundraise to keep operational or knows some generous philanthropists please also let us know! ALEC is an incredible asset to our community and we collectively have to find ways to sustain it.

Keep well,

ALEC Communications and Campaigns Manager

Please note:
From June 30th Thorny News will now only be sent to current ALEC members

As we have mentioned before we will be transitioning across to a new web system called Nationbuilder by June 30th. As part of this transition we will be setting up new systems, and if you are not a current ALEC member or Desert Defender you no longer will receive the Thorny News. Theoretically this should have been the case already, however we have been a little lenient in the last few years.

We are currently undertaking a phone drive to connect with past members and to let them know of the changes. If you would like me to check your membership status please email me at

Federal Election - Can you help?

Can anyone put up a placard promoting solar power and voting for our environment on their front fence?

You can pick one up from the ALEC stall at the ASTC Markets this Sunday 19th June and also sign the voter pledge to cut pollution, invest in renewables and protect nature.

Otherwise you can drop into the ALEC office next week, or email me at and I'll see if I can organise getting one dropped to you.

ALEC is working with the Australian Conservation Foundation to educate local voters about how to vote for the environment this election. ACF has produced an election scorecard. Check it out and see where the major parties stand on looking after our environment, and take the voter pledge.

Make an End of Financial Year Donation 

We would like to invite you take part in our End of Financial Year Donation Drive.

Since June 30th 2015, ALEC has had no ongoing operational funding, which means the centre relies on fundraising, philanthropy and donations to keep our doors open.

For 35 years ALEC has worked tirelessly to protect the environment from inappropriate development and has developed a wide range of initiatives supporting the sustainability of Central Australian communities.

For a small organisation ALEC is having a significant impact in keeping the health of our environment in focus and on the agenda.

ALEC is the only organisation in Central Australia that is advocating for the protection of our groundwater and environment. ALEC is taking a strong stance against fracking in the Northern Territory, and successfully supported the campaign against the nomination of the Hale site 70 km south of Alice Springs as the national nuclear waste dumpsite earlier this year.

ALEC is catalysing change through initiatives like RePower Alice Springs, which is responding to the government’s recent investment of $75 million into fossil fuel infrastructure for the town, with no investment into renewable energy or any transition planning. RePower Alice Springs seeks to transition Alice Springs to 100% solar by 2030 – not an ambitious task considering whole countries like Germany, Portugal, and Norway are already running on 100% renewable energy now.

desertSMART EcoFair is now in its eighth year and is the peak Central Australian event focusing on science and sustainability, engaging science celebrities and local experts to facilitate community education and discussion.

The Alice Springs Community Garden continues to thrive, and Food for Alice has gone from a fortnightly to weekly local produce market on Saturday mornings at 90 Gap Rd, The Gap.

ALEC’s social enterprise initiative, Arid Edge Environmental Services is going from strength to strength with 6 full and part time staff members. Beyond garden tune-ups and landscaping projects, Arid Edge is building food gardens in Utopia, and running Green Army projects removing buffel in the Todd River.

ALEC engages in the crucial role of analyzing and responding to government policies and proposals, public submission processes and mining proposals and environmental impacts statements. This analysis is critical in working to protect our environment from inappropriate development and bad government policy.

For more information on all ALEC campaigns and initiatives go to

We are incredibly heartened by the community support we have received since the announcement of the Territory and Federal funding cuts in 2014, which has kept ALEC operational. However it costs a lot to keep the organisation going, and the fundraising pressures are relentless.

We need your ongoing and regular support.

With Federal and State Governments displaying no concern for our environment and taking us backwards on climate action it is easy to feel disheartened, however our strength lies in our capacity to work together and demand a sustainable and fair future for us all.

If you are already a donor and can increase your level of support it would be greatly appreciated, and we encourage anyone who isn't a donor but is in a position to do so to become an ALEC 100 member or Desert Defender.

You can make an end of financial year tax deductible gift to ALEC by:

Become a philanthropist: make a large gift to ALEC

Electronic Transfer – gift fund details

Account Name: ALEC Inc - Gift Fund

Bank: Alice Springs - Bendigo Bank

BSB: 633 000

Account #: 1343 58688



PO Box 2796

Alice Springs, NT 0871

or in person

Drop in to ALEC at 90 Gap Rd (corner Kraegen St), The Gap

Become an ALEC 100 Member:

Give $100 a month or contribute a one off $1000 tax deductible donation each year. ALEC 100 supporters will assist to provide the ongoing essential operational funds of ALEC.

Become a Desert Defender:

Desert Defenders give one off or monthly donations. These provide critical funds to support ALEC programs and campaigns.

Whilst acting on climate change and protecting our environment can seem like an overwhelming task, we must take heart from the changes we are starting to see all over the world as communities take action on transitioning to renewable energy and standing up for our environment.

Please support ALEC to drive that change in Central Australia.

Finally, ALEC is also in the process of transitioning across to our new web platform, Nationbuilder, and in the next month we will be contacting members to update details and seek further support.

If you would like to speak with me personally please call me at the office 08 89522497 during business hours, or on my mobile 0423511931.

Thank you in advance.

Jimmy Cocking
ALEC Director

One World ALEC Fundraiser

Thanks to those who attended this event on Saturday 4th June. Despite smaller than anticipated numbers, it was a bit of a cold night!, we still raised $4000. A special thanks to our artists Storyteller, Peachy, King Marong, Karnage N Darknis and Hytek for donating their time, and a special thanks to you volunteers James, Petal, Kristy, Rod, Jeska, Cass, Liz, Bron, Franca and Stewart. An extra special thanks to Chris and Hyrum from Page 27 who enabled it all to happen!

RePower Alice Springs

RePower Alice Springs is currently working towards a public meeting on Thursday July 28th to discuss the future energy future of our town, dependant on availability of guest speakers. We'll keep you posted!

We need some more energy and enthusiasm to help us build the campaign for a solar powered future in Alice Springs. Can you help? 
Next Meeting: 5pm - Wednesday 29th June ALEC Office 90 Gap Road

Solar citizen election materials have been delivered. We have 20 posters and 100 flyers that are election specific that need to be put up around town and handed out. Who can distribute posters around town? 


RePower Alice Springs also recently called on the Northern Territory Government and Territory Generation to answer the following:
  • Release the economic modeling that was undertaken as part of the decision to install 10 new gas engines at Owen Springs Power Station, which compares the economics of gas versus solar energy generation for the 25 year lifespan of the engines.What factors have been considered in the economic modelling? What were the assumptions that have been made? What data was considered in the economic modeling?
  • Territory Generation have stated that gas will be the source of power until solar generation becomes more cost competitive. What is the plan for this transition and what funding has been allocated?
  • What is the financial breakdown of the $75 million contract?
  • Are the new gas engines currently in construction more or less responsive to solar integration that the current ones at Ron Goodin Power Station?
  • Beyond the installation what are the ongoing life cycle costs of the 10 new gas engines?
  • Does Territory Generation currently cap the amount of solar energy going into the grid? Is all the solar power currently being generated in Alice Springs being used?
  • Given Territory Generation CEO, Tim Duignan has stated that extra solar may be detrimental to the stability of the grid, is there a risk that households installing new solar systems may not be able to sell power into the grid?
  • The closure of Ron Goodin Power Station will destabilise the grid. What corrective action is Territory Generation investing in, and does this include battery storage? If not, why not?
  • RePower Alice Springs is concerned that this decision was driven by existing gas supply contracts. What are the details of these contracts, including who are they with, how long are they for and for what price? Are there price implications if/when the Tennant Creek/Mt Isa gas pipeline comes online?
  • What percentage of total generation from renewable sources does Territory Generation sell to retailers? Does Territory Generation have the expertise to support more renewable energy? How much is Territory Generation investing in 2016-2017 to build this capacity?
  • Territory Generation has stated that the company is developing a renewables roadmap. Who is going to be inputting into it? Will there be public consultation? When will it be released to the public?
  • Which policy does the Northern Territory Government have that this decision has been made from? Which policy details the Government’s approach to renewable energy and solar?
The Chief Ministers response is below:

Central Australian Frack Free Alliance

The campaign is really gearing up with both the Federal & NT election looming.
We have lots of activities happening at the moment & lots of opportunities to be involved!
National Highway Action – June 25!
On Saturday 25th June, people from all across Australia will park their cars along our national highways and create a united call for better protection for our water resources this Federal Election. From Darwin to Hobart, From Cairns to Perth and everywhere in between, this election let’s make sure candidates & politicians know we want to protect our Water4Life!

In Alice Springs we will gather along the Stuart Highway from the airport to the MVR & at key intersections around town between 10am – 12pm.
To find out more & get involved email
And check out & share the facebook event here.
Make some signs, pack a roadside picnic, & gather your friends for a fun morning to call for out water resources to be protected!
There will be a crafternoon to make signs and banners for the highway action THIS SATURDAY from 2pm – 5pm at the Arid Lands Environment Center, 90 Gap road (opposite Piggley’s grocery). Come on down & lend a hand – you don’t need to be crafty & all materials are provided!


Community BBQ & Information session THIS SUNDAY at Larapinta
To kick off the next stage of our community surveying initiative we will be having an information session & free BBQ in Larapinta this Sunday 19 June at 3pm. The BBQ will be held at Patterson park (on Lyndavale Drive) – come down & find out more – all welcome!! We are also extending the community survey to ANY and ALL streets across Alice Springs! So if you are interested to survey your street we can help you do it!
We have a team of local people who are happy to help you to prepare and to survey your street. We can provide all the resources & information – you just need a few hours a week & the enthusiasm! Please get in touch if you want to find out more & declare your street frack free!!
Come and visit us at the markets this SUNDAY
CAFFA will be kicking off at the Todd Mall markets to spread the NO FRACKING message this Sunday 19th June.
We also need more people to help with the stall - Can you volunteer just two hours of your time once a month to help us staff our stall?
No experience needed! You will be paired with an experienced volunteer who can show you the ropes!
Help us call on Council to take Action to Protect Our Water
After tabling the fantastic results of the Old Eastside community survey (89% for a frack free Central Australia!!) at the Council Ordinary meeting on May 31, CAFFA also submitted a request to Council’s environmental advisory committee - that Council to call on the NT Government to establish a ‘no-go’ zone for shale gas fracturing activities through the drinking water aquifer for Alice Springs.
The recommendation was adopted by the environmental advisory committee at it’s meeting on Monday 6 June and then tabled at Council Committees meetings on Tuesday 14 June. The recommendation was not discussed by elected representatives at Tuesday’s meeting which means it will now be progressed to and voted on at full Council on 27 June.
Can you help let our elected representatives know this issue is important to you?
Make a quick phone call or send an email to ask Council members know you would like to see them voting in favour of a proactive approach to protecting our town water supply!
Here are some points you might like to raise with them:
  • Given the known risks of fracking, there is a need to safeguard our water supply from not only the potential for contamination with toxic chemicals, but also from significant depletion by this water hungry industry. We currently have an estimated 200 years of good quality easily accessible water left – why would we squander this on an industry that will provide little returns for everyday Territorians?
We need to act to ensure our water security so that future generations can continue to enjoy the same Centralian lifestyle we do. 
  • Given the growing community concern around this issue – as evidenced by our recent survey results which found that 89% of people surveyed in Old Eastside were against fracking for shale gas in the NT, surely it is their role as elected representatives to act to address community concerns?
  • Other towns and cities, such as Sydney, have acted to protect their water supply by putting in place a moratorium on fracking in the drinking water catchment areas – why can’t we?!
  • Given the NT Government has stated that it cannot provide a 100% guarantee that our water won’t be adversely affected by fracking, surely asking the NT Government for a fracking ‘no go’ zone over our water supply is reasonable and necessary?!
  • If they won’t act to protect our water who will?!
Contact details for Council representatives can be found here.
Let’s make sure our voice is heard on this issue! Even a quick email stating you want to see Council call on the NT Government to establish a ‘no-go’ zone for shale gas fracturing activities through the drinking water aquifer for Alice Springs would get the message across!
And come down to the next Council meeting on Monday 27 June at 6:00pm where it will be discussed to show your support!

Arid Edge Environmental Services

desertSMART EcoFair

Great news! desertSMART EcoFair ambassador Costa Georgiadis will be back for this year's EcoFair. Check out "Costa's Walkabout" from last years event.

desertSMART EcoFair expands into new venues in 2016
The desertSMART EcoFair will be utilising a number of venues around Alice Springs as part of this year’s National Science Week program in August, with events at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs Community Garden, the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre and the Alice Springs Desert Park.
Since 2009 the Ecofair has connected thousands of people to science and sustainability in Alice Springs, with the majority of events being held at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. 2016 sees a fresh approach, expanding out from the Botanic Garden into other venues in Alice Springs that showcase science, sustainability and our natural environment.
“The EcoFair has now been running for 8 years, and each year we strive to find new ways to engage the community on science and sustainability. This year we wanted to mix things up a bit, as well as showcase the great natural venues in Alice Springs that also have the function of community education,” said Nicole Pietsch, desertSMART EcoFair organiser.
“We are blessed in Alice Springs to have venues in Alice Springs the calibre of Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs Community Garden, the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre and the Alice Springs Desert Park. These venues are the perfect settings for our community to gather, learn about science and sustainability, connect in with our natural environment and become active citizens in shaping our collective future,” said Nicole Pietsch.
“As we experience increasing temperatures, unique weather events and face losing our iconic natural places like the Great Barrier Reef due to global warming, the role of science has a huge role to play in helping us devise pathways to sustainability in the future. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the issue of climate change and how to make a difference, yet change is happening at fast rate with renewable energy technology now becoming cost competitive and whole countries like Germany, Portugal and Norway running on 100% renewable for certain periods of time.”
“Alice Springs holds a range of scientific and ecological experts and its important for the community to be aware of the great work being undertaken here in Central Australia. EcoFair aims to help us all better understand this work, as well as facilitating national experts to come and share their knowledge about science and sustainability work happening at a national and international and scale.”
The desertSMART EcoFair ( is organised by the Arid Lands Environment Centre ( as part of National Science Week. The program includes:
Friday 12th August:
Eco-Science Schools Day and the Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival – Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Saturday 13th August:
Nourishing Gardens with Costa – Alice Springs Community Garden
Science Under the Stars – The Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre
Sunday 14th August:
EcoFair Sustainable Living Festival – Alice Springs Desert Park Courtyard

National Heritage Listing for the West MacDonnell National Park?

ALEC has just submitted comments supporting National Heritage Listing for the West MacDonnell National can too. Send your comments to

National Heritage Listing does not offer any more protection but through recognising the outstanding natural and cultural values of the region it is a pathway towards a World Heritage listing, which would provide benefits to both the local ecology and economy.

Hermannsburg is already on the National Heritage List. ALEC is suggesting that with consultation Gosse Bluff, Finke Gorge National Park and Watarrka (Kings Canyon) also be included which would strengthen the case for World Heritage Listing.

Comments close on June 20. More information here.

Community Notices

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All rights reserved.

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ALEC Office: 90 Gap Road, Alice Springs
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 2796 Alice Springs 0871 NT
08 89522497