ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
February 7, 2008. This page contains all
... and now there are six
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
By ERWIN CHLANDA and KIERAN FINNANE
In an unprecedented move in local government elections in Alice,
Alderman Jane Clark has announced her “preselection” by the NT Greens
as their candidate for mayor.
The town council is conventionally expected to be free of party
politics, even though some aldermen, such as mayoral candidate David
Koch and indeed the outgoing mayor as well as former mayor Andy
McNeill, are or have been strongly associated with political parties.
Ald Clark is the sixth candidate to throw
their hat in the ring, joining fellow aldermen Koch, Meredith Campbell,
Murray Stewart, Melanie van Haaren
and the sole non-aldermanic contender, Damien Ryan.
She says, if elected mayor, she would commit to stay the full term. She
is not sure yet whether she will also run as an aldermanic candidate:
“We [the Greens] are still talking about that.”
She ran for the Greens in Greatorex at
the last Legislative Assembly elections, having at first stated her
intention to seek pre-selection for Labor.
Ald Clark owns a business
in the IT industry, and has owned local restaurants and a therapeutic
health centre in the past.
She has been an alderman for four years
and is an executive member of the Local Government Association of the
She is currently working with LGANT lobbying the federal government for
1% of Commonwealth taxation to be distributed to local government.
LGANT is also involved with negotiating with the NT Government on
issues relating to local government reform.
In her responses to the 18 propositions in the Alice News internet
survey, What Alice Wants (see summary this page and preliminary results
starting page 5 this edition), she asks where are the local MLAs on
many of the issues; supports a stronger focus on council’s core
business in order to make our tourist town more attractive; using the
mayor’s role to press for greater water efficiency; the introduction of
kerbside recycling, removing the casino causeway as a flood mitigation
measure; more constructive relationships with Aboriginal interests,
especially via the new shires; and a liquor free day.
She would like to see council take over local planning. And she is the
sole candidate to support the handover of national parks to Aboriginal
Mr Ryan, Alice born and bred, won’t be drawn on the performance of the
present council, retiring Mayor Fran Kilgariff, nor the NT Government.
He says he doesn’t belong to any political party and wants to keep
politics out of the council.
“I’m not getting into a political fight,” he says.
“I’m not pulling a fight with anyone in a government position.
“I want to get my own message across.”
Mr Ryan says the council needs to be able to liaise with governments.
“If the door is shut you can’t do anything.”
He claims to have the background and connections for fruitful
He started in business as a “traveling salesman” in the far-flung
Central Australian outback 35 years ago and now has a major photo shop
and other interests.
Mr Ryan is a member of the Central Australian executive of the Chamber
of Commerce, and vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce Northern
He has worked as a member of the advisory committee for the last three
Alice Springs Masters Games.
His passion, he says, is being a life member and vice-president of the
Finke Desert Race committee: he started the conversation with The Alice
News about his candidacy by announcing that the race already has “early
bird” entries from 12 cars and 230 bikes.
Mr Ryan says the town has a great opportunity with a new council,
mayor, police commander and senior bureaucrat.
In his responses to the Alice News survey, Mr Ryan calls for the
development of 100 blocks of land a year, for a flood mitigation dam
doubling as a recreation lake, objects to the transfer of town planning
to the council, says the ownership of national parks should stay in
public hands, and rejects stringent restrictions on take-away liquor.
Alderman van Haaren is pushing for a far more resolute and independent
attitude towards the NT Government.
She says about the relationship with Darwin: “It’s like the girl with
the curl: when she’s good she’s very good, when she’s bad she is
Declining to name names, Ald van Haaren says: “Political affiliations
have hampered progress on, for example, anti social behavior and
everything that fell out of that.
“We were too polite, too soft, too fearful of creating division with
the NT Government.
“There should be no political bias in council,” says Ald van
“We don’t need a Berrimah Line puppet at the helm.”
Like Mr Ryan she is committed to going the full term.
“I am not interested in any other political office. My concerns are the
town and the people.
“Given the town is so dependent on support from both governments, we
were wrong leaving the federal government out of the loop far too much.
“I’ve constantly lobbied to visit ministers in Canberra to make them
aware of the consequences for the town of their federal policies.
“I did not make headway with the current council on this.
“A good rapport with the federal government is more important than with
the NT Government, given the challenges faced by Alice Springs.”
In reply to the News web survey, Ald van Haaren supported community use
of the civic centre, said no to a lake, wants to benefit far more
broadly from local people whose expertise she describes as world
standard, calls for protection of the town from major floods, and says
top public servants shifted to Darwin must come back.
She says town planning should stay with the government, parks should
remain public property, council rangers should get much wider law
enforcement powers, and booze should be harder to buy in order to rein
in anti-social behavior.
The preliminary results to the Alice News survey, What Alice Wants,
have some expected and some surprise findings. (See pages 5 to 7.)
Out of some 150 responses, an overwhelming majority (91%) want to see
public conduct standards created and enforced.
Strong majorities (over 80%) want serious action on flood mitigation,
the development of local horticulture, the return of senior public
servants to town, town planning placed in the hands of the town
council, and improved public toilet and ablution facilities, including
in shopping centres.
These results are to be expected, but will governments take note?
Surprising, given the drawn out controversies over the issues and
assumptions about popular opinion, are the significant majorities
wanting stringent liquor restrictions and the creation of camps for
bush visitors (together with a clamp down on illegal camping, littering
and public drinking).
Surprising too is the nearly 50% indifference to having tourist
promotion in the hands of locals. That’s a significant disconnect
between the public and the town’s number one industry.
Have your say!
The Alice Springs News web survey "What Alice Wants" has so far
yielded 150 replies, each answering a majority of 18 propositions
connected to the town council elections for a mayor and eight aldermen
Readers put forward these subjects to us over the past few months in
letters, emails or in personal conversations.
We obtained answers late last year from mayoral candidates Murray
Stewart, Meredith Campbell and Dave Koch. These interviews are
published in our December 13 and 20 editions last year, or see them on
our webite www.alicespringsnews.com.au
Today we bring you the responses from Damien Ryan, Melanie van Haaren
and Jane Clark who put up their hands recently. And the graphs show
what you, the public had to say to date.
The survey will remain open until 5pm on Friday, March 21, and we’ll
publish the final results on March 27, in the issue immediately
preceding the elections.
If you haven’t done so yet (and each computer is admitted once only)
you’re welcome to log on and and have your say on the running of the
town. Just click on the link at the top right hand corner of our home
Convert the Civic Centre to a place where visitors are welcomed. It
should include a museum celebrating Central Australia’s natural beauty,
its art, ancient Aboriginal culture, and the pioneering skills of
living in a remote area. This would include expanded space for Tourism
Central Australia, and facilities for social and other functions for
visitors and locals alike. Move the majority of the town council
bureaucracy to office accommodation elsewhere in town.
143 public responses.
I agree. 44.1%
I don’t agree. 44.1%
I am indifferent. 11.2%
DAMIEN RYAN: Our Town has great facilities already to cover these
issues, the Desert Park, National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at the
old Gaol Site, Strehlow Research Centre, Transport Hall of Fame
and many others. Moving the town council management to other
offices would be fiscally irresponsible. Tourism Central Australia has
already spoken about redeveloping their facility.
MELANIE VAN HAAREN: From the very outset I have been one of the
strongest advocates for any new council building to be for a multi
purpose use, and an asset to the community. I am very disappointed with
the outcome of the debate and with the building whose use now is
limited. It has a culture of exclusiveness rather than inclusiveness.
JANE CLARK: A move of this nature would cause considerable upheaval
particularly when you look at our comprehensive IT systems. To
uninstall that infrastructure and move it elsewhere would cost an
absolute fortune and be a waste of ratepayers’ money.
Open up cheap residential and industrial land. Create powerful
incentives for people and industries to move here. We need affordable
accommodation for people working here, and for first home buyers.
146 public responses.
I agree. 54.8%
I don’t agree. 39.0%
I am indifferent. 6.2%
RYAN: I welcome the recent announcement by the NT Government to let the
headworks contract for 70 residential blocks in Stephens Road and other
land releases. We need 100 new blocks a year, commercial, industrial
and residential land, to help reduce the labour shortage, continue the
growth of our town and to attract families to Alice Springs. From this
there is a flow on effect to our building industry and general business.
VAN HAAREN: We must encourage population growth. In a number of areas
we have not worked hard enough. Cheap land would need to be part of a
package. Council’s capacity to provide land and more accommodation
would be zero, but we could tap into schemes of the Department of
Immigration, making the town more attractive for migrants. We should
look to both other tiers of government for development of industry.
CLARK: Whilst I agree we need affordable housing, this responsibility
rests with the NT and Australian Governments. I suggest readers
go and have a chat with our silent MLAs on this issue.
Build one or more recreation lakes within a 100km radius of Alice
Springs, which can also be integrated in the water supply.
142 public responses.
I agree. 42.3%
I don’t agree. 52.8%
I am indifferent. 4.9%
RYAN: Having lived in Alice Springs all my life I have always thought a
lake would be fantastic, but the town council is not in a position to
undertake such a development. Our council should be lobbying both
Federal and NT Governments to identify a suitable site that would
facilitate a flood mitigation dam, provide recreation facilities and
water conservation while recognising indigenous cultural sites.
VAN HAAREN: This would not be high on my priorities. I would prefer to
put our energy into taking care of the water holes we already have,
ensuring they are attractive destinations.
CLARK: Lovely fantasy, environmentally questionable and I feel the
expense and environmental impact would be too much. Also, this is in
the realm of NT Government, not local government. Ask your MLA.
Put tourist promotion into the hands of locals. For example, Tourism
Central Australia, who know the game, and get bang for buck.
144 public responses.
I agree. 49.3%
I don’t agree. 6.9%
I am indifferent. 43.8%
RYAN: Tourism Central Australia (TCA) has embarked on a new plan with
Tourism NT (TNT) whereby TCA will be provide a closer liaison between
local operators and the TNT to reinvigorate Central Australia as “the
real outback”. This will incorporate all of Central Australia including
the Barkly area now to be represented by the three new shires. The
council will support TCA in their endeavours to spread the word of what
a terrific place this is. Alice should be on every visitor’s
itinerary. I will ensure that council takes a greater interest in our
VAN HAAREN: I agree there is no better person to promote Alice than a
local, but we would have to be assured we would get adequate funding
from the NT Government.
CLARK: We need to do a better job with regard to public toilets, parks,
shade, parking and litter. A clean town makes tourists feel
welcome. This is our core role and it needs focus, focus,
Double the available water supply, including through recycling.
142 public responses.
I agree. 43.7%
I don’t agree. 45.1%
I am indifferent. 11.3%
RYAN: In the same manner that the community will benefit from the
education of solar power utilisation with the new Smart Living Centre,
I would support a program of information that would show the benefits
of water conservation. I would encourage Power and Water to continue
their development of use of recycled water in recharging of the water
aquifer and where appropriate to develop other direct recycling.
VAN HAAREN: I wouldn’t support limits placed on us because of their
restriction of growth [for example, caused by the shortage of water].
Along with other environmental issues this is an area on which the
council should form an advisory committee. Given our Solar City Status
we cannot afford to make anything other than the best decision relating
to these matters. We are in the world spotlight. There are
international experts sitting here in Alice. The council needs to tap
CLARK: The Mayor needs to seriously ensure that NT Government pushes
the Power and Water Corporation to fix leaking water pipes and
implement the recommendations of the Water Efficiency Study. I
would also support a tiered pricing scheme and grey water reuse
Move the power station, the garbage dump and the sewage plant well
outside the town.
145 public responses.
I agree. 73.8%
I don’t agree. 13.1%
I am indifferent. 13.1%
RYAN: The matter of the location of the power station and the sewerage
plant are not within the Town Council’s responsibilities; however I
would be working to encourage the NT Government to move the power
station to Brewer estate expeditiously. The sewerage farm currently
meets the needs of the municipality. The Alice Springs dump has not
reached capacity and at this time it would not be economically prudent
to make any other arrangements. The new council should start planning
to identify a new site to meet future needs.
VAN HAAREN: Excellent idea. But all of this comes at a cost and we
should be planning and lobbying for the funding right now.
CLARK: The power station and sewerage are NT Government issues.
We need to plan for a rubbish dump away from town but not so far that
transport costs blow out. We also need to implement kerbside
Develop, in collaboration with private enterprise, tourist facilities
in the West and East MacDonnell National Parks.
143 public responses.
I agree. 46.2%
I don’t agree. 46.9%
I am indifferent. 7.0%
RYAN: [I expect] the new town council [to] welcome the establishment of
the MacDonnell shire and [to explore] the opportunities for tourism and
other commercial development in the East and West MacDonnells. I will
ensure that we work in close harmony with the new shire and TCA to
promote the destination.
VAN HAAREN: I would support the principle, bearing in mind whatever we
do needs to be first class and preserve the natural beauty of the
ranges and their environs.
CLARK: This is a great idea to put forward to the NT Government
and private industry. I can see the Mayor in a pivotal negotiation role
Leave all national parks in public ownership but set up an Aboriginal
park management advisory body.
144 public responses.
I agree. 72.9%
I don’t agree. 15.3%
I am indifferent. 11.8%
RYAN: All parks, Federal and Territory, are owned by the people. The
parks should remain in public hands, and be managed with help from an
independent management advisory board.
VAN HAAREN: I believe there should be a dual management approach which
includes traditional owners but the parks should remain the property of
CLARK: No, in recent months I have seen wonderful examples of tourism
enterprises opening up as a direct result of the National Parks handed
back to traditional owners. Rainbow Valley Cultural Tours is one which
comes to mind where traditional owners (young and old) share their
stories and show tourists the pristine 5000 year old rock art on their
Put in place flood mitigation that will reliably save the town from
catastrophic loss of life and damage resulting from storms increasingly
likely to occur because of climate change.
143 public responses.
I agree. 84.6%
I don’t agree. 10.5%
I am indifferent. 4.9%
RYAN: I agree that there should be a flood mitigation program in place.
As discussed in Issue 3, a dam to help mitigate a 1 in 100 year flood
would meet a number of criteria including recreation and water
conservation. We’re not going to get two dams.
VAN HAAREN: It is incumbent upon the council to ensure this town is
safe and that needs to include being safe from flooding. Given the
mammoth task this would need to be tackled in conjunction with the NT
Government which would need to take the lead role.
CLARK: Firstly, I advocate for removal of the casino causeway which has
caused a back up of flood waters time and time again. Secondly,
we need to understand the river and manage it much better.
Create farmlets at Rocky Hill, near the new gaol and on Arid Zone
Research Institute land so that small fruit and vegetable growing
enterprises can be created, both for the local and interstate markets.
140 public responses.
I agree. 83.6%
I don’t agree. 7.9%
I am indifferent. 8.6%
RYAN: I would see the council as taking advice from Desert Knowledge
(CRC), CSIRO and Arid Zone research who have the knowledge to ascertain
if such developments would prove viable. The NT Government is the
agency that would then be responsible to react to that advice and the
recommendations of council.
VAN HAAREN: Wonderful idea. It’s in keeping with the Centrefarm project
at TiTree. One can see from that development that benefits are more far
reaching than just provision of produce. It involves training,
employment, a sense of community and pride and independence.
CLARK: I would certainly be happy for this to happen at AZRI especially
when you consider that we could use reclaimed sewerage water.
But, once again, all this is in the jurisdiction of our local
neighbourhood MLAs – I hope they are reading.
Achieve greater autonomy for The Centre by bringing senior bureaucrats
back to Alice Springs.
140 public responses.
I agree. 80.7%
I don’t agree. 9.3%
I am indifferent. 10.0%
RYAN: Alice Springs needs to have its own senior area departmental
heads based here to better reflect the unique situation of Central
Australia. It needs the expertise of senior officers of the NT
Government who are aware of local issues and solutions.
VAN HAAREN: Definitely, I’m 150 per cent behind decentralization of the
NT Government’s public service. The shift of senior positions to Darwin
has had one of the most negative impacts on Alice Springs in the past
10 years. We need to reverse that immediately. It has not only taken
our most senior, and therefore prosperous families from the town, it
has disempowered us and removed our control over our destiny.
CLARK: The best way for Alice Springs to get a fairer share of funding
and services is to have significant senior public servants living here
so that they have to face the same issues locals do.
Place the responsibility for town planning in the southern region of
the NT with Alice Town Council, together with appropriate funding from
the NT Government.
140 public responses.
I agree. 81.2%
I don’t agree. 13.6%
I am indifferent. 4.3%
RYAN: The current position with the council having two of the four
representatives on the Development Consent Authority with an
independent chairman offers the best option for the fair consideration
of all applications for building and land sub division of town
VAN HAAREN: I do not support this. Currently we are better served by
harnessing resources and expertise, such as town planners and
engineers, within the NT departments. Council costs would go up. There
are already moves in council to charge unreasonable fees to progress
through the council applications for development.
CLARK: Yes. As Alderman I supported a motion to have Council take over
planning – this was defeated. Planning Minister Lawrie laughed when
this was suggested. Having planning in our scope would provide more
work for a more focussed council.
Set up an Aboriginal cultural centre, featuring bush foods, corroborees
and other entertainment and educational elements alongside the Desert
140 public responses.
I agree. 69.3%
I don’t agree. 17.1%
I am indifferent. 13.6%
RYAN: I would lobby for council to encourage Desert Knowledge to look
into this great tourism opportunity.
VAN HAAREN: I can only imagine something like that would bring great
kudos to Alice Springs. Such a facility would be of international
CLARK: I would like to see this and also include a centre which tells
the story of the Stolen Generations from all angles using film, oral
histories, art and new media.
Seek better cooperation with Centrecorp and other Aboriginal interests.
139 public responses.
I agree. 71.2%
I don’t agree. 10.8%
I am indifferent. 18.0%
RYAN: It would be my intention to work with all commercial and
government organisations in the development of opportunities for
business enterprises in our town.
VAN HAAREN: I certainly would like better relationships and
partnerships entered into in relation to specific projects, for example
cleaning up Billygoat Hill, in cooperation with Lhere Artepe. We need
something better than the airy fairy Memorandum of Understanding with
Tangentyere about camping in the Todd. This never got down to tin
tacks. We need agreements and protocols that are tangible and
CLARK: Council needs to greatly improve cooperation and negotiation
skills, particularly with the new Shires being developed. We will
have the opportunity to improve services, revenue and promote social
change if we work constructively.
Require shopping centers to have public toilets. The council should
provide further public ablution facilities around town, including
140 public responses.
I agree. 81.2%
I don’t agree. 10.7%
I am indifferent. 7.1%
RYAN: Public toilets and showers are currently available in civic
centre and other facilities are available at some shopping centres.
Council would lobby the NT Government to include a provision in the
building by-laws for inclusion of public toilets in new developments
when considered by DCA for all new developments.
VAN HAAREN: I agree. We need better access to toilets and more showers
for the use of tourists and others. I would like to see them clean and
comfortable. There would need to be a fee for the user. We need more
facilities for breast feeding mothers.
CLARK: Yes to everything. We need to replace some of our ablution
blocks (eg the ‘Todd River Tardis’ at the end of Parsons St) and also
invest in more portable ablution blocks and parenting rooms for public
PROPOSITION 16: Create
and enforce public conduct standards.
141 public responses.
I agree. 90.1%
I don’t agree. 5.7%
I am indifferent. 4.3%
RYAN: Council would be reflective of community concerns and I would
support a co-operative partnership of the NT and Federal Governments to
ensure that the police and other agencies have the where-with-all to
meet the changing needs of the community. Those agencies need to have
the budget to have sufficient police with the right equipment to meet
this demanding job.
VAN HAAREN: I 100 per cent agree. I am lobbying for bylaws that will
result in less anti-social behavior. There should be no camping in the
Todd. We give mixed messages allowing agencies to avoid addressing the
issue of homelessness. Rangers need to be able to move people on if
they are creating discord or are drinking in designated zones. The Mall
would be an obvious example. Council workers should be authorized to
confiscate liquor drunk in breach of the dry town legislation. I don’t
agree with the Police Association that this is exclusively the job of
the police. The council should seek out a contractual arrangement,
signed off at the highest levels, whereby police must prioritize
responding to a council ranger’s call for backup or, if a breach in
legislation has been reported. This would require the police dedicating
resources to enforcing the law, rather than the current situation where
dry town breaches are given minor priority. Otherwise we’ll never get
CLARK: The standards already exist in our legal system and
by-laws. The weakness comes in the area of needing a police force
committed to community policing strategies.
Create two camps for visitors from bush communities, whilst strictly
enforcing laws against unauthorized camping, littering and public
138 public responses.
I agree. 79.7%
I don’t agree. 17.4%
I am indifferent. 2.9%
RYAN: The community and Indigenous representatives rejected the
proposal to build town camps on the north and south ends of Alice
Springs. It is obvious that a solution is needed to meet the needs of
visitors from outlying bush communities. The newly elected council will
have to be the facilitator of all interested parties including the
elected members of the new MacDonnell and Central Desert Shires to find
a suitable solution.
VAN HAAREN: I do not support the establishment of any more town
camps. I support the normalization – a term coined by former Federal
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mal Brough – of the present town camps.
The housing deficit for low income earners needs to be addressed.
CLARK: I am in favour of hostel style accommodation. However, we need
to consult further with the visitors from communities about their needs
in town, so that it is a positive experience for all.
PROPOSITION 18: There
should be stringent take-away alcohol restrictions to reduce harm to a
large segment of our community, and to curb anti-social behavior.
139 public responses.
I agree. 77.7%
I don’t agree. 20.9%
I am indifferent. 1.4%
RYAN: The layer on layer of restrictions has been ineffective and harks
to an era of prohibition. I would fully support a system where the
small number of problem drinkers were [held] responsible for their own
actions without penalising the greater population. Our recognition of
Alice as a tourist hub requires appropriate liquor trading hours.
Council cannot affect liquor regulations but can be reflective of the
VAN HAAREN: I believe that if you reduce the supply of alcohol it has
an effect on the consumption. The biggest problem for Alice Springs is excessive
consumption. Restrictions are an impost and sometimes penalize the
wrong people, but at the end of the day the only way we can overcome
the problems is making it harder to buy grog.
CLARK: I support a liquor free day as a way for the whole town to stand
in solidarity against the waste of life caused by liquor abuse.
this week, is "endorsed" by the Greens, which puts her out
of step with convention of keeping party politics out of the town
council, although some aldermen, such as mayoral candidate David Koch,
and indeed the outgoing mayor asal parks,
and has her facts wrong, asserting that one parks, Rainbow Valley, has
already changed hands.
LETTER: Govt. minder, Advance
Alice boss in fiery clash. WARNING: Some language in this letter may
Sir,- There has been much discussion recently about the need for
change, a new approach by our town council, taking on a much broader
role, seeing itself in a corporate role, as the operator manager of our
town, in all its aspects.
In a recently published letter I spoke of a meeting I had with the new
Chief Minister just prior to Christmas.
In that meeting Paul Henderson was discussing, in a congratulatory
fashion, the retirement of our most senior public servant, John
A point was raised about the difficulty John had had in getting
necessary decisions about Alice Springs made by a disinterested senior
public service in Darwin.
It was put to the Chief Minister that we, the people of Alice, would
like to see the senior position in our end of the Territory upgraded,
given more independence and decision making capacity.
He was quite amiable to that idea, going on later that evening at his
official Christmas function to announce in public his acceptance of
In my letter I went on to say in light of the above that it was time
for the council to “seize the town planning role for Alice Springs,
because of the NT Government’s dismal failure in that area”.
Well, didn’t that get a response!
Last Friday afternoon I received a loud and abusive phone call from the
Chief Minister’s advisor, John Gaynor, reading my letter to me over the
phone at the top of his voice, allowing no room for explanation.
He informed me that he (John Gaynor) does not set up meetings or
invitations to official functions with Ministers so that I can use
information gained for my own political ends, yelling at me: “The Chief
Minister never said anything about handing over planning”.
This, of course, is quite accurate, he didn’t and that is why I used
the word “seize”.
I’m not sure where Mr Gaynor went to school. By my understanding, the
word “seize” intimates the use of a certain amount of force, certainly
not a word you would associate with a voluntary action.
It is not amusing that a senior government bureaucrat would seek to use
his position to blackmail and cajole a member of the public into not
expressing a point of view!
It is even more amazing that the NT government should find so
frightening the idea of Alice Springs controlling its own planning,
like just about every other town in the country!
Why is the NT government so intent on keeping planning for the future
of Alice Springs in Darwin?
What possible reason other than the wheeling of petty power could there
be for a Darwin-based government hanging on desperately to planning
control of a town 1500 kilometers to the south?
Could it possibly be that the tight reins on planning in Alice
successfully stifles development here?
Does this have anything to do with leaving more money to spend on
football, V8 car racing and wave pools in the Top End?
I am a builder, and I was on a building site at the time of Mr Gaynor’s
loud and abusive call.
I thought it only fitting to respond in my best building site fashion,
also at the top of my voice, as I needed to be heard above Mr
I told him should he feel the need to ring me again in such a manner, I
would immediately attend at his office to discuss the matter face to
Mr Gaynor very rudely hung up.
Amusement aside, this hardly bodes well for a changed attitude towards
It was under John Gaynor’s stewardship of the office of the Chief
Minister in Alice Springs that Clare Martin was left hung out to dry,
speechless and in shock, before an angry crowd of 500 plus people
outside the Convention Centre last year.
The office’s perception at the time could be summed up as Alice has no
problem at all, it’s all just media hype, and uncalled-for criticism.
Mr Gaynor now apparently thinks the role of the meetings he sets up are
not to lend an ear to community concerns, with some intent to solving
Rather it seems meetings and invites to special functions are an
exchange for silence, for the honour and privilege of being seen out
hobnobbing with those in power.
Further to this appalling attitude, on the same day the Chief
Minister’s office also rang a new mayoral candidate offering its
Somewhat inappropriate, don’t you think? Political interference in our
Surely, if this office spent as much time listening and doing something
useful as it does issuing propaganda and attempting to stifle
criticism, it might actually achieve something worthwhile, and then
perhaps the criticisms would stop.
Nothing could give a better example of why Alice needs change in the
sort of people who are representing it.
Take a long hard look at town council election candidates - do they
have the intestinal fortitude to stand up against a government intent
on stifling our development?
I call on the Chief Minister to distance himself from the petty antics
of this office.
I call on the Chief Minister to sit down as a genuine politician and
work out issues with the people of our town, not the government
agencies, and map out a way forward that’s acceptable to the people,
not the people of Darwin or Katherine or Gove but to the people of
After all, its our bloody town!
[ED: Mr Brown is the head of
the influential and vocal lobby, Advance Alice. The Alice News put his
allegations to mayoral candidate Damien Ryan who said Mr Gaynor had
“wished me luck,” but it was clear that Mr Gaynor had spoken not on
behalf of the Chief Minister, but “in a personal capacity”. Mr Ryan
stressed he is not a member of any party and does not want any
political interference in town council matters.
Meanwhile Mr Gaynor, a Senior Ministerial Advisor in Alice Springs, has
released to the Alice News what he describes as a file note he had
written about the conversation with Mr Brown.
The note says in part:-
John: Steve, I’m calling ... about a statement you make that the Chief
Minister made a statement about reviewing decision making in Alice
Springs, which is true, he did say that, but you insinuate or imply,
through the following paragraph that it was in some way connected to
Steve: That’s not what it says at all.
John: l know what it says, that’s exactly what it implies, I have it in
front of me, I’ll read it to you.
Steve: John, don’t read it to me, I know what it says, I wrote it,
John: Well, Steve, you say just prior to Christmas, Chief Minister Paul
Henderson indicated he was not averse to Alice Springs having a more
autonomous role, with more decision making made here.
The Chief Minister did make a commitment to review public servant
decision making in Alice but that was in relation to an issue raised by
Bronte Evans relating to John Baskerville’s retirement ... You go on to
say that “the new town council must sieze this opponunity to take on
At no stage at any time did planning get raised in that meeting.
Now for you to write a public letter referring to a discussion you had
with the Chief Minister and l’d say mislead for your own personal and
political agenda, I think that’s not within the spirit of having
meetings with the Chief Minister, or me arranging for meetings like
that to take place.
Steve (interrupting and screaming): Look John, as per usual you’ve
totally misinterpreted whal I fucking said, you’ve got a fucking chip
on your shoulder, and lf you ring and make fucking phone calls like
this again l’ll fucking come down to the doorstep of your fucking
office and I’ll fucking well punch you in the nose.
John: l don’t have to listen to this ... at which stage I hung up the
Mr Gaynor also commented: In respect to my conversation with Damien
Ryan, indeed I did congratulate him on his decision to stand.
In my personal opinion, to have a thoughtful, successful, and competent
businessman stand as a candidate for the forthcoming Alice Springs
Council election bodes well for the future of Alice Springs.
It was not an endorsement by the NT Government.
Darwinites born to rule the
Territory. COMMENT by ALEX NELSON.
The demise of Jodeen Carney’s leadership of the CLP seems as inevitable
as night follows day.
This is not an opinion borne of hindsight – through the history of the
NT Legislative Assembly no political party, whose leader was a member
for an electorate outside of Darwin, has been led successfully.
In fact this pattern was established in 1965, during the former NT
Legislative Council, when Colonel Lionel Rose, the Member for Alice
Springs, became the founding leader of the North Australia Party;
however, in the elections of October 1965 he was defeated by the ALP’s
Charlie Orr, the only time that Labor has ever won an urban Alice seat.
The next political leader based out of Darwin was the CLP’s Dr Goff
Letts, the Member for Victoria River. As the majority leader of the
newly-formed NT Legislative Assembly, Letts was at the forefront of the
campaign for self-government but lost his seat in the 1977 elections.
The ALP’s first leader outside of Darwin was Bob Collins, the Member
for Arafura, who took on the role in 1981. Despite being widely
regarded as the best debater in the Legislative Assembly (unsurpassed
to this day), Collins nevertheless led the ALP to arguably its worst
defeat in 1983 – the CLP took 19 seats to Labor’s six.
This was Collins’ only attempt as leader to win office for Labor, as he
stood aside to run for the senate in 1987.
The CLP’s Ian Tuxworth, the Member for Barkly, became chief minister
upon the resignation of Paul Everingham in December 1984. Tuxworth
relocated his family to Darwin in order to cope with the pressures of
the job while still representing Barkly but this did not save his
tenure from becoming disastrous, and he resigned in May 1986 thus
becoming the only chief minister never to have run for election while
holding that office.
Tuxworth subsequently became the inaugural leader of the NT Nationals,
retaining his seat of Barkly in 1987 but losing office in 1990 when he
sought to switch to the Top End seat of Goyder.
The next out-of-Darwin political leader was Labor’s Brian Ede, the
Member for Stuart. He led Labor to a substantial defeat in 1994,
narrowly retained his own seat, and – like Bob Collins – only stayed at
his party’s helm for one general election.
Ede’s successor was Maggie Hickey, the Member for Barkly since 1990
after Tuxworth’s departure. In 1997 Hickey suffered the ignominy of
leading Labor to one of its worst electoral defeats, and – just like
Collins and Ede – led her party for one general election.
One might argue on a technicality that the hapless former CLP leader
Denis Burke, who took his party to two elections defeats in 2001 and
2005 respectively, as the then-Member for Brennan (in Palmerston), also
fits the bill as a failed political leader outside of Darwin.
Clearly Jodeen Carney is in good company but there is another aspect to
her leadership that emphasizes the point I make – she was the third
lawyer to lead the CLP after Paul Everingham and Shane Stone. Both
Everingham and Stone started off as residents of Alice Springs, and
both moved to Darwin where, as members representing urban Darwin seats,
they led the CLP to its two greatest election victories (1983 and 1997).
Jodeen Carney has broken with “tradition” by remaining a resident of
the Alice and, at present, is one of only two opposition leaders never
to have led a political party in a general election in the Northern
The other one is none other than re-instated leader Terry Mills but,
given the undertaking by Carney not to challenge for the leadership
before the next general election, it is Carney that looks set to hold a
unique position in the history of failed political leaders in the NT.
None of this is to say that there have been no failed political leaders
from Darwin itself but the issue here is that there has not been one
political leader from outside of Darwin whose career in that position
can be described as a success.
As in the past, so too does the future look grim for political
aspirants outside of Darwin. Obviously the CLP, with only four members,
has no one else to choose; for example, Matt Conlan, the Member for
Greatorex in the Alice, is a political novice.
However, what is more telling is that no-one from Labor out of Darwin
inspires any confidence as potential leadership material – indeed,
there are very few from within Darwin that could reasonably be
considered genuine political leadership material, despite Labor’s
overwhelming 19 seat majority.
In 1984, after the CLP government had increased the number of
Legislative Assembly electorates from 19 to 25, the federal finance
minister Senator Peter Walsh took Paul Everingham to task for wasting
taxpayers’ dollars on such extravagance. Everingham apparently
responded by pointing out how little talent there was in the existing
pool of politicians so there was a need to increase the numbers in
order to broaden the choice of potential ministers available.
It would seem much the same criticism applies today although the
prospect of further expanding the number of politicians would be enough
to give any reasonable person heart seizure – the real issue not being
addressed is the nature of political representation.
For as long as we continue to persist with one member electorates, the
apparent weaknesses of government in the Northern Territory will be
exacerbated over time, regardless of which party holds office.
Unfortunately we do not have any politicians with either the vision or
the caliber to undertake this debate in the interests of the Northern
Territory as a whole.
Mills working on alliance with
Nats in Queensland. By KIERAN FINNANE.
A CLP government under the leadership of Terry Mills would decentralise
decision-making in the Territory, moving, for example, the relevant
parts of Tourism NT back to Alice Springs.
And the CLP opposition under Mr Mills will formalise its ties with
other liberal (small ‘l’) forces around the country, especially those
in northern Australia.
But Mr Mills doesn’t go as far as suggesting the party will amalgamate
He says a “strategic alliance” with other conservatives will strengthen
the drastically weakened NT party’ s intellectual resources for
developing policy fixes for the many problems the northern states have
He has already had discussions with the Queensland Nationals’ Laurence
Springborg and these will be on-going.
Mr Mills returns to the leadership after a previous stint during the
CLP’s first term in opposition.
He describes this period as “the best and worst of times”, speaking for
the first time in public of the “destructive elements” that
“white-anted” his position.
He chose not to identify them at the time “in the interest of the
“They thought they could do it better so I stood aside.
“The result speaks for itself.”
It’s clear that the former leadership team that led the CLP to
decimation – Denis Burke and Stephen Dunham – are who Mr Mills is
referring to even if he declines to confirm this.
The “best” of the experience is that “it made me stronger”.
Nobody comes to a position of leadership without personal cost, he
says. His past experience has been valuable in preparing him for the
He says his so-called “coup” or “plot” against former leader Jodeen
Carney is an “inflated” view of the situation. He says the situation
was resolved amicably (though “amicable” is not really the tone of Ms
Carney’s statement on the matter) and describes her performance as
opposition leader as “outstanding”.
Ms Carney said in a media statement that she believed she was the best
person to lead the CLP and that she would not become Mr Mills’ deputy
in his proposed “job swap”.
However Mr Mills argues that “if we don’t take the fight up to the
government in the place where we have the greatest chance of winning
seats we’ll define ourselves as permanently in opposition”.
In his view, this can’t be done long distance.
It isn’t just a matter of geography – “we had a Chief Minister
[Ian Tuxworth] based in Tennant Creek”.
“It’s a matter of resources.
“The CLP at present has very limited capacity and resources.
“I am the only member north of Katherine, alone in holding up the
opposition’s voice in a region where every single seat is in the hands
The authority and resources that the office of opposition leader
carries with it will help him do this more effectively.
Ms Carney, in her media statement, rejected the view that “a person
with an electorate in Alice Springs cannot be the Leader of the
Opposition or, indeed, the Chief Minister”. However, she has
ruled out challenging Mr Mills for the leadership before the next
Mr Mills says taking the fight up to government is a mission he pursues
every single weekend with the “grass roots communities” of the Top End
while Ms Carney, “because of the quality of her representation in Alice
Springs”, could rarely be in Darwin on weekends.
“It’s easy to see this as an insult to Alice Springs but it isn’t,”
says Mr Mills. “I see it as a necessary move on the road towards
addressing the core problems affecting Alice Springs which are due to a
“Basically it’s because Labor doesn’t accept that individuals are
responsible for their actions.
“They think society is responsible and so they fund a lot of loosely
targeted and often extravagant social programs.
“They talk about getting tough, for instance with irresponsible
parents, but it’s only a shift in rhetoric.
“It’s never followed up in action.”
He gives an example: the failure to fine parents for not sending
children to school – the Act provides for a $200 fine but the provision
has never been used.
A local example: a “tough love” youth camp at Hamilton Downs. Mr Mills
says there’s talk but “you just don’t get the feeling that it will ever
“I believe it is people rather than policies and programs who make the
real difference, I believe in freeing people up to decide on things and
run things themselves.
“There are people in Alice ready to run with a ‘tough love’ camp.
“Government should move swiftly to help them with resources.”
Likewise with economic development, government’s role should be as
facilitator, decentralising decision-making to the place where the
action is to be undertaken.
This would see the shift of Tourism NT’s operations concerning Central
Australia to Central Australia.
“I’m not a centralist. I believe in taking shackles off individuals,
increasing their autonomy and creativity by putting power in their
“This applies in education too. I would increase the decision-making at
school level where creative solutions are needed on the ground, rather
than take a ‘we know best’ attitude.”
But people with vested interests can resist necessary change, can’t
Mr Mills says leaders should stay the course with policies and reforms
they have put to the people during an election, even if opposition
But if reform programs are developed after an election – he cites
Labor’s local government reform as an example – they have to be done in
a manner that “takes the people with you.
“I agree that local government reform was needed but the government had
to stand up and win the argument.
“There’s been great difficulty in getting the Minister to front the
“If I didn’t have a mandate for a program I would be out there front
and centre, not letting a highly paid consultant do it for me.”
Not surprisingly Mr Mills believes the Commonwealth’s welfare reform
must continue and is concerned that the substance of the intervention
will be whittled away by the new federal Labor government to become
“yet another cause for discouragement of good Aboriginal people”.
He believes the permit system “ultimately must go” but this would be a
case of taking the people with you: “You have to win the argument, that
there are advantages in us being better connected to each other.”
One advantage would be a mutually beneficial alliance with traditional
owners to free up land around the Territory’s urban centres.
“Government has got to release land in order to achieve affordable
“Combined with incentives for families to move here this could lead to
a boom in Alice Springs, a chance to really grow the community and
Farewell William Trevor Stephens.
Eulogy NOEL HARRIS.
I last saw Trevor the day I left on holidays never thinking that I
would not see him again, a message to all people here today: make the
most of your parents or grandparents while you have them as nobody ever
knows when they will not be here any more, and a reminder to us all to
live life to the full like there is no tomorrow.
Trev, you have achieved big mobs since we met in 1998. Although you had
difficult health issues you did not let any of this get in your way.
You impressed me so very much with your friendly and positive attitude
and punctuality that you were the proud recipient of my long and
successful coach’s incentive award in 1999.
Your kind and unselfish thoughts in the late nineties led you to
nominate me as a torch bearer for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 – a
very proud and memorable occasion for both of us.
Again last November you nominated me for the Australian of the Year
awards, both in the Senior Territorian and Local Hero awards, I now
have a lovely framed award proudly up on my wall beside my Olympic
Torch, thanks very much to you again, dear Trev.
Those special talks we had regarding difficult times helped me remain
positive, and once you asked me why do I persist. My answer was it was
because of people like you that appreciate my many hours and years of
time and knowledge that keeps me passionate about helping people of all
levels of health and well being.
You made special visits just prior to Christmas every year since
we first met, with a fine bottle of red wine as a thank you for my
continual assistance. I still have some of your wine that will be used
today as a toast to you Trev – one of nature’s gentlemen.
As we both walked through the new works in the Ghan Railway property
just the same morning that I left town for three weeks holiday,
nobody knew that in this very same area you would be taken from us just
two days before my return to town in such a tragic way. Trev I am
having a sign made as a memorial to you on this property with the
wording “Trevor Stephens Discovery Walk”.
Alice 1/8th of population, 1/8th
of NTCE top scores. By KIERAN FINNANE.
With eight Alice students among the Territory’s Top 50 NTCE achievers
last year, Alice had its fair share of success – one-eighth of the top
scorers for one eighth of the population.
St Philip’s College had one student among the Territory’s Top 20
(actually 29) and Centralian Senior Secondary College had two.
St Philip’s Sashika Richards was Alice’s top student, with an NTCE
score of 94, earning her a TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank, the score on
which universities base their intakes) of 99.6.
Centralian’s David Johnston and Emily Ryan each had an NTCE score of
90. They earnt TERs of 97.9 and 93.55 respectively.
These students were joined in the Territory’s Top 50 (actually 58) by
Jane (Katherine) Bowering from St Philip’s, Carl Muir and Georgia
Steller from OLSH College and Jack Talbot from Centralian.
Carl was OLSH’s top student earning a TER of 97.15.
Casuarina Senior College in Darwin produced the Territory’s top
student, Kelly Beneforti, with an NTCE score of 99, and the college
dominated the Top 50 with 29 out of the 58 placements, followed by
Darwin High with 18.
Casuarina also produced the top Indigenous student, Brooke Ottley, who
achieved a NTCE score of 86.
At Centralian College 25 out of 26 Indigenous students earnt their
NTCE; St Philip’s saw two Indigenous students obtain theirs, with one,
Amanda McLean earning a TER of 84.8; and OLSH had three Indigenous
students completing their NTCE and now looking at further study.
There were 126 Indigenous students among the record 985 students who
received an NTCE in the Territory.
That’s nearly 13% of the total, still well below population parity
(around 29% of Territorians are Indigenous, while around 37% of
Territory school students are Indigenous).
Alice students earning perfect scores in individual subjects were
Eddie Tikoft in Physics and Nicole Zimmerman in Computing, both from St
Philip’s; Ryan Bailey in English Communications, and both Lhiani Payne
and Staci Trindle-Price in Australian Languages, from Centralian. OLSH
did not provide information in regard to perfect scores.
In the Territory 39 students achieved perfect scores. Alice’s five
account for one eighth of those.
St Philip’s had six students earning TERs over 90 and a further 10 over
80; Centralian had four students earning TERs over 90 and a further 12
over 80; OLSH did not provide this information but said “the class
achieved above average results in the higher Grades, namely A, B and C,
and this was complemented by less than average distributions in the
lower groups, D and E”.
The average TER score for St Philip’s was 72.8; for Centralian, 70.2;
OLSH did not provide this information.
This was an improvement for Centralian on the 2006 average (67) but not
as good as their 2005 average of 75.95 (75.46 in 2004).
St Philip’s did not provide this information for 2006 but the 2005
average was 73.5 (70.63 in 2004), so the 2007 average is up there.
Of the eligible students, 97.2% passed their NTCE at Centralian (105
out of 108); 94% passed at St Philip’s (48 out of 51); 95.8%
passed OLSH (46 out of 48).
ADAM CONNELLY: Blind faith is
Australia Day is seen by some in the community as a contentious
celebration. I had a ball last week celebrating the notion of a nation
but I can see why some wouldn’t be so sympathetic.
Some feel that commemorating the landing of Phillip and several hundred
petty crims at Sydney Cove isn’t an event to be marked by fireworks and
It could be argued that while the landing of convicts and freemen on
that summer day in 1788 began most humbly a great nation it also
destroyed dozens of other great nations.
There are others that cringe at the nationalistic tinge that is
creeping into many of the celebrations. The flag fashioned into a cape.
The “Oi! Oi! Oi!” reminiscent of that day not so long ago at that
beach, with a hint of that woman from Queensland who has recently been
seen around Alice. I have friends that have the “Love it or leave it”
sticker on their bumper.
That sticker sometimes scares me a bit. It evokes a blind love. It says
that if I’m critical of my country I don’t love it. What’s wrong with a
“Love it or do something about it” sticker? I happen to think that
those who stand and shout from the rooftops the injustices and the
imperfections they see in Australia love the country more deeply than
those with the blind faith approach.
They get the un-Australian tag most often, but to me there is no
greater act of real patriotism than wanting to improve and protect the
Aussie way of life.
I find it strange that Australia Day has this image problem yet
Christmas Day seems to remain relatively unscathed. With more and more
Australians coming from lands with mosques and temples rather than
churches combined with the lack of church attendance you would think
that December 25 might have a public relations nightmare on it’s hands.
Christ wasn’t even actually born in December. It’s a date we stole from
old pagans. Yet despite all that’s going against it in this modern,
ungodly world, Christmas remains the biggest holiday on our calendar.
It proves to me that public holidays can be about whatever we want. So
why not use Australia Day to unite as a nation, a people diverse but
Why not celebrate Australia as a country with all its obvious
imperfections? A nation with all its glorious challenges. A great
nation, with citizens aiming to make it better. Why not?
I don’t have to tell anyone living here just what an amazing part of a
remarkable country we live in. Geology gave us a palette unique and
inspiring upon which to build this country. But of course we didn’t
start out that way; in fact we have only been this nation since 1901.
Sometimes it’s a little too easy to remember that we as a modern nation
started as several separate entities. This separation still makes
itself known from time to time.
In an era of increasing federalism it is interesting that the old
school rivalries still pop up from time to time, even if they can
scarcely be justified.
Sydney prides itself on it harbour, yet all the people I know in that
city can’t see it from their window due to the vast urban sprawl.
Adelaide calls itself the culture capital of Australia yet most South
Aussies are more passionate about the Crows than the ballet.
Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia yet every time I go to
Melbourne I see people wearing skivvies and anoraks.
Not really your quintessential sporting wardrobe.
So post Australia Day, let’s put these old rivalries to bed. Melbourne,
no more Sydney bashing and could everyone leave Brisbane alone...they
can’t help it.
Let’s unite the way only Aussies can. In a spirit of fraternity, a
spirit of the fair go.
Let’s find the ties that bind. A sense of community, a sense of justice
and an intense hatred of New Zealand sporting teams.
Back to front
page of the the Alice Springs News.