The planning debacle is not a simple, single issue, problem! When …

Comment on Housing crisis as 860 dwellings are in development by Steve Brown.

The planning debacle is not a simple, single issue, problem!
When land release was first halted as government wrestled with the native title issue it didn’t take long for the greedy, the speculators amongst us to realize that land restriction meant escalating house prices.
Lobbyists, landlords, homeowners throughout our bureaucracies soon saw it as being in their interest to shut off land supply. Government, always willing to withhold funds, enthusiastically endorsed that policy expressing a heartfelt wish to protect people’s investments.
Trouble is with this kind of self-centered greed driven approach like any pyramid scheme is that when you push prices high enough you eventually reach a point of un-affordability where your workers, the ones you rely on to do the chores and pay the rent, can’t afford to stay. They begin to leave in droves, the result of which we now see in Alice, a collapsing economy.
Missing from the list of projects displayed in this article is the proposed White Gums Sub division of 500 allotments. This project ticked all the boxes through the planning process, enjoyed enormous public support, had some 200 prospective buyers waiting enthusiastically in the wings. Yet against the wishes and the hopes and dreams of many passionate Centralians the scheme was bought to a grinding halt by Minister Delia Lawrie with the following statement: “The government feels that Alice Springs infrastructure is not presently capable of supporting a project of this size, we will review the situation in 18 months.” That was four years ago. That project was worth in the vicinity of $200 million to the town’s economy. How much better a situation would Alice be in now if this and all the projects knocked back or halted for no good reason over the past eight years had gone ahead. How much better placed would we have been to weather the coming storm? The past eight years of deplorable government have seen a massive escalation not only in house prices but in regulation, requirements, hurdles, fees and charges that have to be payed or jumped before any project can begin.
Many are illogical and absurd, many put into place with the deliberate intention of slowing or bringing these projects to an end.
The drainage requirements described in this article are a blatant example of what is utterly ridiculous and completely unnecessary, but doing the intended job … halting the project.
PAWA have also played a huge part in bringing development to halt, automatically objecting to every new project, deliberately setting the bar too high, advising the Minister against proceeding with projects as they see all new infrastructures as a threat to their bottom line’
PAWA thinks that shows how gloriously well they operate as a supposedly private business.
The new and by far the most effective game used by our bureaucracies to stifle developments is the practice of “not setting the bar at all” – a continual repositioning of the goalposts whenever you get near.
The article mentions the 81 unit retirement village at White Gums. The latest government ploy for that project 18 months on, is to demand a completely designed sewage system for the project. This is an enormously expensive thing to do. Because the department demands it now without giving any guarantee they’ll subsequently approve the project, the developer has to gamble on the project going ahead and spend the money [for the design and planning – ED].
With a project approval rate of zero would you spend the money? The sad result for Alice from demands like this is that this and other projects are extremely unlikely to proceed. Once again Alice Springs loses out! And yet out there in the public space the minister is busily talking up retirement villages, and how they’re working with business to get some! Sabotage would be a much better description of their procedures!
How do we fix it? Elect strong leadership! Demand forward thinking! Deregulate, scrap the red tape! Get affordable housing into the market place ASAP! Bring in incentive schemes for long term stayers, schemes such as buying up or building affordable houses, renting them at affordable rates.
Good tenants who stay five years have the right to purchase at cost, automatically qualifying for NT government loans with all the previous five years rent being converted to a deposit against the purchase price.
Give our kids, our workers some incentive to stay! When we do our economy will rebuild! It’s is also a matter of great imperative that we lobby whatever government is in power to bring PAWA back into the fold.
Back directly under the minister’s control as part of a new Department of Planning and Infrastructure that actually has the in-house expertise required to develop the Territory into the foreseeable future.
The privatized model simply does not cut it when because of continual growth large capital input is required on a continual basis. The present privatized model results in PAWA finding it in their interest to work directly against the Territory’s development, particularly in areas viewed as being more expensive to operate – and that is outside Darwin!

Recent Comments by Steve Brown

There’s more to renewables than sunshine
Until now every drop of water that was ever on the earth has remained on the earth.
Wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony if quasi religious climate fanatics were eventually responsible for using up that water, turning it into hydrogen?
It would be even more ironical that we should consider that in one of the driest places on earth, where water is absolutely in its most valuable state as water.
We should all understand that there is no such thing as free energy. There is always a price and generally speaking it would be a pretty bloody smart idea to understand that price, monetary or otherwise, before we go racing off creating even more mammoth environmental issues for future generations.
For the present there are so many ifs around the Hydrogen idea that – dare I say it – it’s simply a pipe dream!
Also noted the quick duck for cover by Mr Duignan when the question about feed-in prices for home solar generators was raised.
Whose issue would that be then Mr Duignan? Wouldn’t that be the Territory Government and given that Territory Generation is in fact a quasi public service operation owned lock stock and barrel by Territory taxpayers, maybe a more responsible answer would be in keeping with that role.


Community solar: the devil is in the wires
Yes, and then there’s all the community facilities of which we are all joint owners! Places such schools, hospitals, police stations, street lighting, ecetera, the list is endless.
All of these facilities require power 24/7 as does welfare housing, hotels and motels, all connected to the rest of the grid.
Consumers on the remaining grid would, as they do now, have to pay their share of those costs, plus, the share of those in the community system.
This is already occurring of course, on a smaller scale, and the costs to the poor old hapless consumer who can’t afford to instal solar, are already escalating.
The only fair way to rectify this imbalance, which of course nobody wants to hear about, all studiously avoiding the subject, is for owners of solar systems to pay their share of those costs!
Another words, pay not only for their use of the grid, but for the existence of the grid.
Yes, even if they are operating a stand alone system.
This of course effects the whole viability of installing solar, dragging its payback time out by quite a bit.
However, if we are to honestly asses the true worth of solar to the community, then these costs really must be taken into account.
It’s time the rose coloured glasses came off, frank and honest assessments are made.
Governments parading solar as world changing advancement are often actually subsidising its installation while blithely ignoring the true and growing cost to community. Just face up to, and come up with, some fair and equable answers!
Now we seem to be adding lithium iron batteries to the mix, as if they are some kind of nice environmentally friendly answer to our storage problems, when to my eye, precisely the opposite is true.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of renewable power but it must be truly honestly viable, covering all the costs, and it absolutely must create less pollution than our present systems of generation or we are all fooling ourselves.


Ratepayer, do you want your money back?
Such an astoundingly naive proposal could only ever have originated with one Councillor Melky. As always grandstanding without the slightest thought given to the actual consequences of such a profoundly counter productive decision. Which if carried out to the letter would see a good deal of the windfall funds blown in the name of community consultation. Any attempt to refund it would incur even greater costs reducing any refund to a piddling amount producing no worthwhile outcome for the community, especially when you consider Council has on its books many unfunded, or even worse partially funded, or non completed projects that could have, and indeed should have, been funded partially or otherwise from these funds! Benefiting the Community and its economy as a whole.
More importantly, not wasting a huge amount of Council’s time and productivity messing about with a messy, unproductive, time wasting and resultantly expensive, refund. Further to that should Council do the sensible thing and allocate the funds to other projects, it will also provide Councillors with a very good argument against further rate rises next year.
Something I am quite certain, all Rate payers would be relieved to hear.
New councillors need to be across and take responsibility for their role as Body Corporate style managers of their Community’s assets and not to be so easily be duped into making what may seem on the face of it to be responsible decisions but which are in fact cheap political attention seeking ploys with no regard for what may well turn out to be far reaching consequence…
Take time to think it all the way through…
Before you act!


Bottle shop cops ‘security guards, paid for by the taxpayer’
From the moment the POSIs were implemented they have proved themselves to be the single most effective crime prevention measure the Territory has ever seen.
Now I don’t know about you Paul McCue but I would much rather have my family home and business all kept in one piece as opposed to paying out my hard earned to employ a police person who gets greater job satisfaction from aftermath policing!
A person who apparently has so little empathy for the public’s plight that they would actually ask for our support in that role but not in the preventative role!
Call it self interest if you like Mr McCue, but I like many other Territorians, through the voices of our politicians, are going to keep on insisting on the POSIs wherever they are needed.
If we have a police staffing issue employ more police – just as we have been promised on many occasions over the past dozen years.
Fill all of the roles the community requires, not just the roles that suite you!


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Hal: My reference is to Russell’s dad escaping the Germans and arriving in Australia.
Given that he escaped Germany during WW2, if he then set out for Australia he would have arrived during Australia’s greatest hour of peril, facing an imminent Japanese invasion.
Out of the frying pan almost into the fire, bar for the intervention of the USA.


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