Sunday, October 30, 2011

Qantas' Twitter goes to sleep as passengers vent their anger

An extraordinary thing happened last night just hours after Qantas announced its unprecedented decision to ground its entire fleet. Its Twitter went to sleep.

Just five hours into a crisis which left thousands of travellers stranded throughout the world, Qantas decided its customers no longer needed to hear its voice and posted the following on its Twitter feed:

The Qantas fleet remains grounded until further notice. Twitter updates will resume tomorrow at 9am. Visit for info.

It was a move that could be likened to Christine Nixon’s decision to have dinner at a local hotel while Victoria burned a few years ago – although at least she left someone at the helm.

I accept there wasn’t much else Qantas’ Twitter feed could say over and above “sorry”. And responding individually to the Twitter storm that followed its announcement was nigh on impossible.

But to go to sleep? Take the night off? Check out while everyone else was desperate to check in?

Facebook and Twitter weren’t asleep. Neither were the thousands of passengers on the other side of the world who were just waking up to the news that they weren’t going home either.

I’m sure the person feeding the Qantas Twitter account needed some sleep. But surely the company has a contingency in place for keeping the communication going in a situation like this.

It is understandable that many companies have a “business hours” only approach to monitoring and participating in social media discussions – under normal circumstances.

But the extraordinary events of the past few days demanded more. Qantas should have known better. At the very least, its Twitter feed should have soundlessly drifted off the sleep rather than broadcast to the world that it was off to bed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cyclone Carlos study wins national award for CSR

A study looking at how Top Enders accessed information during Cyclone Carlos this year has won a Darwin company a national award for corporate social responsibility.

Darwin-based Creative Territory won a Highly Commended Award in the Australian Golden Target Awards announced in Sydney last night.

The award recognised work the company had carried out during and after the cyclone to communicate emergency information, collect data on how local people accessed information and subsequently set up an online portal for future emergency events.

Creative Territory Managing Director Tracy Jones said her work centres on the critical role social and online media is now playing in getting messages out to the community.

“While traditional media will always remain important, they generally cannot compete with the speed and engagement that social media allows,” she said.

“People are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter and other online channels to stay in touch with what is happening.”

Creative Territory undertook research in the weeks following Cyclone Carlos that revealed a strong preference among Darwin residents to access information via the internet, particularly using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers.

“Almost 3 in 4 people said they accessed information about the cyclone via the internet and even more say they will use the internet in the future,” Tracy said.

“The results also show very clearly that the more people go online to get their information, the more they feel informed about what is happening.”

Creative Territory shared its survey results with both local residents and the broader public relations community both nationally and internationally adding to a weight of global discussion about the role of social media in a crisis or emergency.

The national Golden Target Awards are awarded annually by the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Leak Detectives Save One Bucket of Water per Second

A water pipeline that connects Alice Springs with its main water source at the Roe Creek borefield has undergone a leak repair, saving around 10 litres (about one bucket) of water per second.
The leak repair, four metres below the Tom Browne roundabout near Heavitree Gap has saved the equivalent of 300 Megalitres per year or half an Olympic swimming pool per day.

Power and Water Manager Sustainable Development Water Services, Mark Wiltshire said that whilst leak detection has always been a priority, there is now has a dedicated Leak Detection Officer for the town through the Alice Water Smart plan.

“Fixing water leaks from key piping infrastructure, households and businesses is paramount if we are to preserve Alice Springs’ precious water source and the extra funding through Alice Water Smart provides us with dedicated resources and detecting ability.”

Alice Water Smart is a two year project to help Alice Springs reduce its water use by 1600 million litres per year, equivalent to two months average water supply.

“The Leak Detection Officer will work with the community to help identify leaks around town, no matter how big or small”, Mr Wiltshire said.

“If residents or businesses notice unusual ground water pools or unusually high water bills they can contact Power and Water and we will send the Leak Detection Officer to investigate.”

“Alice Water Smart auditors have already conducted water audits on 19 tourist accommodation properties, detecting some major leaks that will save businesses large amounts off their annual power bills.”

“We are also working with owners and managers to help them become their own on-site leak detectives and the signs to look for should a suspected leak occur.”

For more information on Alice Water Smart visit or call 8951 7315.

Who is involved in Alice Water Smart?

Funding of $7.5 million is being provided under the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns, a key component of the Australian Government’s long-term Water for the Future initiative. This was matched by Power and Water Corporation with contributions from consortium members, including Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport; Alice Springs Town Council; Arid Lands Environment Centre and Tourism NT.

AAco Food Processing Facility Community Update

Australian Agricultural Company Limited’s (AAco) development application to build a meat processing facility at Livingstone Valley is on public display and the community and stakeholders have until Friday 4 November to make submissions to the Development Consent Authority.

If you are seeking more information about the proposal, please do not hesitate to contact us for a briefing or to ask questions. Our information line is 8941 9161.

Individual and Stakeholder Briefings

Over the past two weeks we have met with neighbours, stakeholders, Litchfield Shire Council, MPs, Indigenous groups and other people interested in hearing more about the project. In meeting some of our neighbours, we have been able to hear their suggestions on how they would like the facility to operate if approved. For example, some neighbours have asked that trees not be planted adjacent to their properties while others had suggestions about operational hours for trucks delivering cattle. These valuable suggestions will be taken on board in our forward planning.

Community Stall at Coolalinga Markets

Last weekend AAco’s General Manager, Northern Australia Beef, Stewart Cruden, met local community members at the Coolalinga Markets. Many questions were asked on a range of issues including water treatment, how cattle will be managed and potential odour sources. Because of the importance of these questions, we have included additional information in this update.


All waste water will be treated on site before being used for irrigation of fodder production crops. The 600 hectare property is currently used for fodder cropping and cattle grazing.

The process for treatment includes:
  • All solids are removed from the waste water streams before treatment. This is a key aspect to successful effluent treatment.
  • Waste water is first treated for 14 days in an anaerobic pond. The pond capacity is 15 ML and will be covered to enhance the biological process and stop odours.
  • Waste water is then moved to an aerobic treatment pond with a capacity of 20 ML, for a further 20 days treatment.
  • Water then moves to a large holding dam (160 ML). At this stage the water is treated to an approved standard for irrigating the land. It does contain traces of nitrogen and phosphate.
  • The treated irrigation water is mixed with rain water collected in holding dams (200 ML) in concentrations (water balance) suitable for controlled irrigation for pasture production.
  • The Environmental Monitoring Program which includes soils, pasture and effluent water will ensure the control of hydraulic and nutrients balance, for the crops being irrigated.
There will be careful monitoring of ground water throughout the site and beyond to measure quality. This also includes ground water coming into the site.

Cattle Management
Around 50-100 cattle will be allowed to graze on the property as a means of keeping vegetation under control in areas that cannot be cropped for fodder. Currently up to 1000 cattle are free-range grazing on the property. The wetland area on the property will be fenced off so that cattle cannot reach it as this area will be managed as a conservation zone.
Cattle for meat production will be held in holding yards (not feeding yards) immediately adjacent to the facility. The plan is to bring cattle into the yards on the day or day before they are to be processed. The cattle yards are on hard stand to reduce dust and for “dry cleaning” management practices. The manure will be collected and composted, further improving the raw waste water quality that needs to be treated. The holding capacity is up to 2000 cattle but average hold numbers will be around 1000 cattle at a time.
Halal Processing
AAco has confirmed that the plant will be Halal. There are a number of requirements to meet this standard, including the employment of two qualified Halal slaughtermen on each shift. Cattle will be electrically stunned as is best-practice animal welfare management.
Vehicle Movements
All vehicle movements to and from the proposed facility will be via the Stuart Highway. No access is required from other local roads. Truck movements will be limited to “sociable” hours – likely to be from around 6am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays. We are discussing these times with local neighbours. All roads and driveways within the site will be sealed and speed will be controlled to limit noise.
No Plans for Worker Accommodation
There are no plans to house workers on site during either construction or operations. For the construction, we are planning to contract work to Northern Territory companies. Our preference during the operational stage is to employ local people, as this will give us a more stable and committed workforce. A training program will be necessary to help us achieve this.
Compost at the site will consist of paunch content and manure. This will be held in a compost pile at least 1km from the closest boundary. Current best practice dictates the compost heap should be 100m from the closest boundary. We will be using best-practice management to minimise odours from the pile.
The pile will be occasionally turned and this is the time when odours may occur. However, we will be undertaking this task when prevailing breezes are able to carry any smells away from nearby properties and at times that will least affect residents and recreational activity.
A number of people have asked how they can get jobs at the facility. If the project goes ahead, we will be posting this information on our website.
Stay Up to Date
If you would like to receive regular updates on the facility as we progress through the approvals process, please join our email list by visiting our website at or phoning our information line on 8941 9161.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Alice Springs Getting Smart with Water during National Water Week

It’s National Water Week this week and through Alice Water Smart, there has been a tidal surge of activity to help Alice Springs businesses and residents save water.

Alice Water Smart is a two year project that will help Alice Springs reduce its water use by 1600 million litres per year, equivalent to two months average water supply.

Power and Water Manager Sustainable Development Water Services, Mark Wiltshire said, “Alice Springs has a finite underground water source in Alice, so together through the Alice Water Smart project we can help to protect our water source into the future.”

“Everyone can start by doing one less laundry wash per day, or get a leaking tap fixed or installing smart irrigators in your garden.”

“National Water Week is a fantastic opportunity for residents and businesses to find out more at our lunchtime display stand at the Alice Plaza Shopping Centre.”

Already, through Tourism NT, 19 large tourist accommodation properties have completed water efficiency audits, and other large commercial businesses such as the Alice Springs airport and the hospital are working with Alice Water Smart to develop their water saving plans.

Water efficiency consultants are ramping up to conduct hundreds of home and business consultations to offer practical advice and financial rebates to help people save water in their homes and gardens.

The Alice Water Smart Homes and Businesses project team is also looking for homeowners who consider their garden to be water smart. People can nominate for their garden to be a showcase to others in the community in future public open days.

Power and water's Leak Detection Van has been out identifying leaks saving potentially 300 Megalitres per year.

The Alice Springs Town Council is preparing to install smart irrigation technology in over 70 local parks and ovals.

“The average Alice Springs person uses 564 litres per person per day in their home which makes us among the highest water users in Australia, and Alice Water Smart provides a great opportunity to save water through all the incentives and rebates on offer.”, says Mark Wiltshire.

“Many of us believe our water supply will last forever, as it is drawn from the ancient Amadeus basin. However our water is precious and must be used wisely. Alice Water Smart aims to preserve our finite groundwater source and secure the long term sustainability of Alice Springs.”

For more information on Alice Water Smart visit or call 8951 7315.
Who is involved in Alice Water Smart?

Funding of $7.5 million is being provided under the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns, a key component of the Australian Government’s long-term Water for the Future initiative. This was matched by Power and Water Corporation with contributions from consortium members, including the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport; Alice Springs Town Council; Arid Lands Environment Centre and Tourism NT.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Beat the Christmas rush at the Waterfront Craft Fair

The final Waterfront Craft Fair for 2011 will be held this Friday, 14 October from 2 – 8pm.

With over 30 stalls of beautifully crafted and handmade jewellery, glass ware, macramé, soaps, garden ornaments and clothing the Craft Fair is a wonderful diversion to the build-up and a great opportunity to get ready for Christmas.

Shine Gifts offers Darwinites the chance to get in early for Christmas gifts and trinkets with a wonderful display of Christmas decorations and gifts, including freshwater pearls, opals, bohemian crystal, glassware, lamps and art.

Designed in the Territory, Slappa Thongs are made from recycled foam, they come in a range of colours and are a great addition to the Territory wardrobe. Why not buy two pairs, one for everyday wear and one for going out!

Miranda’s handmade clay flowers are exquisitely crafted and ever-lasting, a wonderful gift for someone who loves orchids and exotic flowers.

New to the Waterfront Craft Fair is Batchelor Bees locally produced honey, come and meet Ian and tempt your taste buds.

Pure Selection is offering a range of all natural mozzi and midgie repellants in tropical strength and ultra sensitive, a must in the current Territory climate.

Ropes, Rags, Baskets and Bags provides the perfect solution to the ban on plastic bags with wonderful handbags and tote bags ready for any shopping excursion.

For those who are feeling the pressure of end of year stresses, or working too hard, visit the magical hands of Tony’s Healing or look into the cards of Linda Tate’s tarot readings.

Local musician and singer, Brooke Barnett will perform soulful jazz accompanied by Kadek Hobman on keyboard from 4pm.

The Darwin Waterfront Craft Fair offers something for everyone.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

NT Social Media Statistics for September Quarter

The growth of LinkedIn throughout the Territory continues to outstrip that of Facebook although still has a long way to reach the same number of users, according to statistics compiled for the September quarter by Creative Territory.

LinkedIn Northern Territory membership grew 18 per cent over the past three months. If this growth rate continues, LinkedIn will have almost 17,000 members in the NT a year from now.

Facebook membership also continues to grow, with now 72,240 members in the NT. Growth across the Territory was 4 per cent in the three months to 30 September, with biggest growth in Tennant Creek at 12.8 per cent. Around 46 per cent of people in Darwin and Katherine are on Facebook, with a total Territorian Facebook population of around 33 per cent.


Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy led the growth in Facebook members this quarter, up 12.8 and 7.8 per cent respectively. The number of members in Alice Springs recovered from dip in August to reach 10,260 members.

Source: These statistics were sourced using Facebook’s advertising tool, setting parameters for state and town and includes all age groups. Be aware that while Facebook works hard to understand the true demographics of its users as its advertising model depends on it, it still relies on individual account owners to name their home town. Many users do not.


Around 4.4 per cent of Territorians in major centres are now connected via LinkedIn, with Nhulunbuy continuing to lead the pack.

Source: These figures were prepared by using LinkedIn’s advanced search tool. We searched for accounts within 80km of each major centre in the Northern Territory. Tennant Creek is not shown in this table, as our search did not reveal any users. Again, we need to remember that account holders self-identify their location and research shows a large number of people never visit their profile again after the initial rush of excitement.


We have to wonder about the accuracy of search tools when Twitter numbers remain exactly the same as the previous month at 642 members. Instead, here is a snapshot of where Territory Twitter users live.