Thorny News Update

Welcome to 2016 from ALEC!

G'day folks,

I hope you're all rested and ready for another big year ahead. We've been back on deck for a few weeks now, planning and preparing for the year. We have a new Board, with members who are committed to stepping up and out for ALEC. This year will be a challenge for me personally as I balance working as ALEC Director half time and spending the other half coordinating the Ten Deserts Initiative ( This will require some internal adjustments, and a strong focus on strategic priorities. We are working on the processes to allow that to happen and we as a team are confident we can make it work. It will be dependent on how people engage with ALEC, through giving time, energy and money to ensure we can have a maximum impact on the issues that matter. 

There are some big issues on the horizon that we must address:
- Proposed nuclear waste dump at Aridgold date farm. Submissions close March 11, check out for more details. 
- Stepping up the campaign for a ban on fracking in the NT (see fracking campaign update for details)
- Increasing the ease to bait dingoes on pastoral properties - see Opinion piece here
- Water policy in the NT including the release of the new 10 year Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan without any public consultation - stay tuned. 
on the positive front, rather than the defensive front, ALEC will be working on-the-ground and in the community to advance our vision of healthy futures for arid lands and people

Our big projects for the year include:
- applying for a community benefit fund grant to set up the 90 Gap Rd Community Centre to be a sustainability hub with solar and innovative energy and water efficiency measures to showcase what can be done to retrofit buildings in Central Australia
- growing Arid Edge Environmental Services to continue to deliver programs and projects both in Alice Springs and in remote communities that support sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles. 
- supporting the Community Garden to have electricity connected and solar panels installed to enable more events to be held at the gardens. 
- Building Ten Deserts into a national collaboration with on-ground projects targeting buffel grass spread in the Great Victoria Desert and developing and implementing strategies for coordinated fire management across state borders and land tenure. 
It's going to be another huge year for ALEC with both a Territory and Federal election in the mix. In coming weeks, ALEC staff will be canvassing your views on environmental issues to better inform our approaches to the major parties and local candidates. Stay tuned and please stay in touch with us on social media and through participating in any number of the event and campaign meetings we have here.

Again, thanks to ALEC staff (Nicole Pietsch, Carmel Vandermolen and Alex McClean) for keeping the wheels of ALEC turning as I took family leave to support my partner Karine and son, Louka to adjust to our new life. I am looking forward to another year at the helm of ALEC with renewed zeal. 

If you have anything to talk to me about, information concerning environmental practices in the private or government sector or ideas that support our vision, get in touch 8952 2497 or email me at

Jimmy Cocking

Food for Alice

Food for Alice Local Produce Market
9am-11am Every Saturday
@ ALEC 90 Gap Road

Well what a move it has been and what a start for January 2016.
It is now official, food for Alice will be staying at 90 Gap rd.  This decision has been made easier with Eastside Pilates letting us know that they will not be opening the café this year.  So first of all before moving on from there we would like to say a BIG Thank you to Deb and Tony at Eastside Pilates for all the help and support they have given us for the last 2 years.  The ability to set up at the café and slowly build both our producer and customer base has been really beneficial in the continue growing success story of Food For Alice.
Moving to 90 Gap rd has also opened up a few more possibilities for different produce to be sold at the market.  The first will be happening this Saturday as Bread will be back on the stall, made and baked locally and delivered fresh Saturday morning from The Bakery.  Second is the news that one of our regular producers is looking at getting there kitchen registered which will enable them to preserve the local produce.  So some time in the future it is possible that we will have different preserved fruit and vegetables for sale – all done locally.

There is more to come after that I am sure, for now this is enough to keep us very busy every Saturday morning.  So remember for all your fresh local produce, come and see us at 90 Gap road from 9am to 11am every Saturday.

Arid Edge Environmental Services

Central Australian Frack Free Alliance

Thanks everyone for your support in 2015 & in anticipation of your ongoing support as we kick off our campaign activities in 2016. 
This year again the campaign key focus will be on getting a moratorium or temporary halt in place for granting exploration licenses for unconventional gas until it can be proven to be safe in the long term. The NT election in August provides a great opportunity to bring the issue to the forefront of our politicians minds. 
We need everyone actively on board to get the message across so we will be continuing to strengthen our community campaign across the NT – educating & informing people about the risks of unconventional gas extraction & the role of the NEGI pipeline in opening up the Territory for fracking. We hope you will join us! 
Already this year there are opportunities to take a stand against the reckless push for unconventional gas extraction & have been some great wins in other states! 
URGENT: Call to Keep the Territory Safe from Fracking
It's an election year in the Territory and right now the NT Labor party is deciding on their shale gas fracking position.
Can you pick up the phone and voice your opposition to shale gasfield fracking in the Territory? 
Call NT Labor Leader Michael Gunner today: 08 8999 6437
Your message is powerful, even if you call out of office hours and leave a voicemail message. 
Ideas for what to include in your call:
- I'm concerned that shale gas fracking is set to occur in the Territory, putting water resources and communities at risk. 
- I've been keeping up to date with the impacts that gas fracking is having in other parts of the world. 
- Scientific reports are now able to measure that shale gas fracking can contaminate water supplies, cause air pollution, consume vast amounts of water and cause earthquakes. Regulation cannot fix these ongoing problems.  
- This year, I will be watching for the NT Labor party to put a ban on all shale gas fracking in the Territory, to protect our land and water.
At the very least, a 5 year moratorium on the shale gas fracking industry is needed: a complete pause on all fracking licence activity, no drilling, fracking or exploration works, and time for baseline studies on pollution, health impacts and water systems. 

Call NT Labor Leader Michael Gunner now: 08 8999 6437, or email

Alice Springs Community Surveying to Kick-off Soon
In early February CAFFA will start door to door community surveying in Alice Springs.
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, and if a majority is obtained, declare their community ‘gasfield free’.
While the declaration doesn’t carry any legal standing it is a sign of solidarity within the community against the unconventional gas industry — and the State Government, should they want to explore or frack gas wells in the district. 
The approach has met with great success in other parts of Australia where over 60 local communities have declared themselves gasfield free. Already in the NT there are 3 gasfield free communities – Adelaide River, Batchelor & Coomalie. 
Thanks to those of you who have already expressed interest to be involved! We will be in touch with you soon. 
If you are interested in being part of the Alice Springs community survey please get in touch with Barb at:
Please spread the word to friends who might be interested to be involved too!

Knitting Nanna’s Are Back!!
The Knitting Nanna’s are back again & keeping the pressure on in calling for the Territory to be kept safe from fracking into the future! 

Their first 'knit-in' of 2016 will be held on Friday 11 Feb at 12pm on the Anglican church lawns in the Todd Mall - opposite the NT Government Regional Development Office. 
To find out more or get involved contact Margy Alexander on 0451 154 687 OR Gerda Hawke: 0423 662 709  

The Knitting Nanna's outside Adam Giles office last year.
Get Involved – Come to our Next Meeting!!
CAN YOU HELP change the outcome of the Territory election and stop the fracking industry in its tracks? We want to hear from you! Over the next fortnight we're asking supporters to complete a quick and easy online survey on how you would like to get involved in the campaign to educate Territory electorates and candidates about the risks of fracking and keep dirty shale gas in the ground. Complete the survey here.

Our next campaign meeting for the year will be held Monday 8 February at 5:30pm at the ALEC Office – 90 Gap Rd (cnr of Kraegen St & Gap Rd – Opposite Pigglys Grocery).
Hope to see you there!
Tanya Hall
Frack Free Coordinator
Central Australian Frack Free Alliance
Mob: 0409 886 129

NT Nuclear Waste Dump Proposal

The Arid Gold Date Farm,75km south of Alice Springs has been shortlisted as a potential site for a national radioactive waste dump. It was nominated by the land holder without any consultation or agreement from Traditional Owners or neighbouring properties. The facility will hold both low level waste and long-lived intermediate level waste. The intermediate level category includes waste from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods that were produced at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor near Sydney.

 The government often promotes this dump as needed for storage of nuclear medicine waste but many health professionals disagree that a central repository is required. There are also alternatives to nuclear reactor produced radioactive medicines that don’t create waste. People across the NT campaigned for eight years to stop a nuclear waste dump. This fight was only won in 2014 and it is disgraceful that the federal government is trying again to force this waste on Central Australia.

Titjikala and Oak Valley community residents opposing the proposed Nuclear Waste Dump

ALEC has a number of concerns about this proposal:
-       Date farm owner Tim Micklem did not speak with Traditional Owners or neighbours  before nominating this site. The federal government did not require agreement from the local community before accepting or shortlisting nominations.  
- The land holder will be paid 4 x the value of the nominated area (not the whole property) if the site is selected. There is additionally a ‘Community Contribution Fund’ that will provide $10 million to the local community, but it is unclear who the government considers to be the affected community. Spending of this money is at the discretion of the Minister.
-       The low level waste will remain buried at the site forever. It is unclear how long the intermediate level waste will stay in the ‘interim storage’ shed as there are no plans for development of a final burial site for this waste in Australia.
-       Local Indigenous food enterprises are at risk. Even the perception of contamination could destroy business and organic labelling may also be affected.
-       Transport of radioactive materials carries inherent risk, especially on under-maintained desert roads. Waste would be travelling long distances from the sources of production. The bulk of the really dangerous waste is currently at Lucas Heights near Sydney.
-       There is concern about impacts on songlines and country both connected to and surrounding the site
-       Radiation is a silent killer that can cause genetic damage that can last for generations.
-       There is no permanent intermediate or high level nuclear waste repository operating anywhere in the world.  It is incredibly difficult to contain radioactive waste for the length of time it will be dangerous to humans and the environment. 
-       The National Radioactive Waste Management Act trumps all state and territory laws and places many key decisions solely at the hands of the Minister.
-       This site could also have a huge impact on local tourism, including the Finke Desert Race.

It is important that your voice is heard on this issue. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted until March 11. You can submit a comment by email or post. Video submissions will also be accepted.
C/o The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science National Radioactive Waste Section
GPO Box 9839
Canberra ACT 2601
Government website: 
If you want more information, go to
Join the campaign on Facebook- search for: STOP the Nuclear Waste Dump Site - Central Australia 
Or call the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) on 8952 2497 or email

Weekly campaign meetings at ALEC on Tuesday's 5.30-7pm

Solar in Alice Springs

Alec is hosting an evening every Thursday night between 7 and 8pm to discuss solar in our community.

Alec is independent and will not be offering advice paid by any industry vested interests.

Discussions are expected to include:
Household solar,
Reading your electricity bill,
Understanding solar quotes,
The best solar for you,
Advances in solar technology, 
Solar batteries, 
Going off grid,
Community solar,
Solar electric car charging,
And much more.

We welcome everyone to come along and add to the discussion each week. 

ALEC Solar Discussion evenings start Thursday February 4th 7pm.

Biodiversity Matters

Photos from recent special nocturnal night walk with Robbie Henderson, local environmentalist and amateur naturalist at Simpsons Gap. Images by Owen Gale.

The desert is flourishing after the rains, and the warm nights are bringing out the wildlife. We saw frogs, inspects, spiders and a few Stimpsons pythons. 

ALEC needs a desktop computer!

Does anyone have a desktop computer they don't need anymore that is less than 3 years old? 

ALEC is seeking a donation of a computer to set up our new volunteer desk at the office.

Please contact Carmel or call 89522497 if you can help.

2016: Fundraising and donations are essential for ALEC's survival

2016 finds ALEC in the same challenging funding environment as in previous years - we have to fundraise everything to survive. After operational funding cuts in 2014 it is a great success story that ALEC remains open thanks to the support of our community. But the pressure is as big as ever to keep fundraising.

If you can become a regular donor - even $10 a month - or make a one off donation please become a Desert Defender.

Consider leaving ALEC a legacy gift.

We are starting to organise our first fundraiser for the year in April. Can you volunteer to help? Please email
Copyright © 2016 Arid lands Environment Centre
All rights reserved.

You are receiving this email as you are an ALEC supporter.
Our new premises is at 90 Gap Road Alice Springs
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 2796 Alice Springs 0871 NT
Phone: 08 89522497