While I congratulate the Minister on his apparent new openness …

Comment on 250 public dwellings would cost $100,000 each to fix up by Steve Brown.

While I congratulate the Minister on his apparent new openness and transparency this article raises a lot more questions than it answers and while some of the aspirational comment is good much suggests that the Minister is in urgent need of some outside expertise.
As a Minister in a new Government with the self-declared intention of “making a difference” the first thing you need to do is understand your department and its issues “as they are”, not as department heads would like you, to understand them.
Minister Chandler appears to have swallowed the department line, hook line and sinker!
Selling houses without reducing stock Mr Chandler I suspect every housing manager in the country would like to know how you manage that!
Selling off poorly maintained houses to fix other poorly maintained houses is a management joke that would assuredly send any private company to the wall!
Going backwards is what you are proposing Minister; going backwards is going backwards, no matter how you dress it up.
There are so many furphies and departmental myths in this article it hard to know where to begin.
Take general maintenance of Territory Housing stocks under normal circumstances this contracted out to reputable maintenance companies. This system has been in place for 30 years or more and has worked well until very recent times.
That the system has broken down has nothing at all to do with workmanship, it has absolutely everything to do with a shameless degree of departmental incompetence and mismanagement!
For instance, the introduction of a new computer system last year saw maintenance grind to a complete halt for months, staffing and competence issues since that time have seen this extend right up until the present.
This is very much at odds with the department’s claim, that they have expended this year’s budget, in the first few months of the financial year, making this claim either untrue or covering a huge increase in expenditure elsewhere outside of the normal maintenance regime.
Could it just possibly be that the inserting of another high cost parasitical NGO to do the management / maintenance of town camps has something to do with it?
Have a few hundred recently refurbished town camp houses used up the entire housing budget? A budget intended to maintain thousands of mainstream homes!
The NGO, a supposedly non profit group made, its appearance under the previous government but has continued to prosper under the new regime. Perhaps the minister would like to comment as to why the intention of inclusiveness, of bringing the town camps into the mainstream community for the deliverance of their services, has already been usurped by departmental support of this new group seeking to isolate control of camps in order to create another fringe camp empire?
Is this in line with CLP policy? Is this in line with the Chief Minister’ss stated intention of not separating indigenous issues from the mainstream?
Why is density of Housing homes an issue that gives excuse for selling off? House are houses, surely it doesn’t matter who owns them unless of course … there is an issue around say, poor maintenance and tenant behaviour!
“Yes Minister”, another management issue! Selling off houses to excuse departmental failure, to properly, adequately, supervise these houses! How on earth do you think we’d get on in private enterprise if we took this approach?
Selling off house to developers if we in the business can afford to buy renovate and market these house at a profit I am absolutely certain that the department can renovate and retain a asset for a good deal less.
Your statement says these homes would require the expenditure of up to $100,000.
[ED – our report said the 250 dwellings would require $100,000 each.]
Many I suspect would require a good deal less, therefore minister, for a rather small capital expenditure you could have a hundred ready made “affordable” houses, available almost immediately for sale to desperately needy home buyers.
If these houses are sold for development they will re-enter the market at prices well above what can be described as “affordable”. Is this what the CLP wants?
I applaud the minister’s stated intention of reintroducing a construction regime for new Housing homes along with an affordable home buyers’ scheme.
I would love to see the reintroduction of the Old Commission home ownership scheme that allowed tenants to rent and convert to purchase at a time of their choosing, with prior rent being converted to part of the purchase price and vendor finance provided by Housing.
In Alice Springs the intention to construct new homes revolves very much around the availability of “affordable” land. Until we have some we should do our best to maintain our existing housing stocks.
As an electrician who sub-contracts quite a bit of housing maintenance in Alice I can tell you that the story of the electricians visiting the lighting pole six times in twelve months is one of those departmental myths floated with the intention of deflecting responsibility and developing further roles for bureaucrats.
The absolute last thing that Housing or the Territory needs. I can tell you that it wouldn’t be unusual to visit a light post in a block of units many more than six times in a year, because minister, these post are sabotaged, switched off or smashed over and over again. So who do you think needs closer monitoring, the usually hardworking electrician or those office bound bureaucrats responsible for the management of these premises?
The management of Housing has been in crisis for a generation. During that time the department has been guilty of divesting itself of as many homes as it possibly could in an attempt to divest itself of difficult management issues and responsibility.
The result is that Territory Housings stocks are far lower today than they were 15 years ago! The selling off has occurred in complete disregard for the “years long” waiting list of struggling young families paying out enormous rents in the private market and looking to a Housing home for some chance, a start in life.
Minister, the Housing homes 30 years old or not, that are upgraded and returned to the pool for rental are every bit as good as a brand new home! There is not a young or old family that wouldn’t jump with joy at being provided with an opportunity to purchase or rent these houses from Housing, at an affordable rate!
So stop the rot!
Give our families a chance! Give our community some stability! Minister, during the party’s years in Opposition they continually railed at Labor for selling off homes and went to an election with a policy of “Increasing Housing Stocks”.
Do us all a favour, including your own party, stick to the policy, stick to the arguments given so many times prior to the election, stop the sell off!
Concentrate on taking Housing from being a welfare provider to an incentive provider, force the department to accept responsibility, to take up the role of being both a welfare and incentive housing provider and meet the community’s expectations of good management of these community assets.
If funding is required borrow the funds! If I can borrow to buy these houses you can borrow to provide them!
I wish the Minister all the best in his new role, decent affordable housing is the very basis of our industry, economy and general health and well-being. Give yourself a chance in reaching worthy aspirational goals hire some industry expertise from outside the department, sort the wheat from the chaff, make “Housing” happen for the first time in a generation! That really will be “making a difference”!

Recent Comments by Steve Brown

Scott McConnell now to vote as an Independent
I very much share Scott’s concerns re the Fifth Floor erosion of basic democracy!
Oversight and control of the bureaucratic machines of government is the sole responsibility of elected community representatives.
Department heads and political advisers roles are just that, to advise and to say “yes, Sir” upon a decision of the elected body.
Unfortunately the lines have become blurred.
Many who have no place actively involve themselves in the political foray, crossing the supposed divide between elected government and administration.
I believe this has come about because the government has become so incestuous, we are electing public servants and political advisers far to often!
Pre-selection committees should keep in mind that the whole concept of democracy and elected government is that the community has control over the government it is subjected to!
I agree totally with Scott on this issue: Time to reinstate democracy!

House break-ins more than double
Labor Government withdrew the police from the bottle shops presentations at the hospital blew out! Crimes against the person blew out! Domestic violence blew out!
Police were reinstated to bottle shops and these things returned to their previous levels.
Now we are expected to give some credit for the subsequent reduction in the associated crime figures!
Meanwhile break-ins are up because the numbers of kids on the streets are up and nothing’s been done!
A little birdie indicated just prior to Christmas that the Alice would be getting a 24/7 Youth Centre by boosting Tangentyere Councils Drop in Centre, however since that time … silence!
Apparently the idea has succumbed to budgetary restraint since the announcement that we are broke.
I bet the $200m for the Children and Families Computer system is still going ahead though!
While considering budgetary constraints it would create a better all round result if the Minister was cutting that item rather than the actual on-ground services that have a real chance of making a huge difference to our costs for policing, courts and corrections, while building community confidence and harmony.
Budget constraints, sure, we’ve got to have them, but let’s just think through our priorities before acting: Less bureaucracy, more coal face service!

West Macs fire mitigation critically inadequate: Scientist
@ Alex Hope: So Alex do you think Parks is achieving its purpose now! Is the buffel eradicated? Is the flora and fauna in a better state than when it was a pastoral lease?
Is the park in a condition that we can show it to the world in order to attract the tourists who fund our economy? Have we protected near extinct species?
To just what level of destruction to you propose we go in chasing what some see as a weed and what others know is actually a highly beneficial grass?
At what stage do you stop this battle against grass and look behind you to see the horrific damage that has been done?
By the time the mentality which you espouse is through, if left to run unchecked, there will only be vast fields of buffel grass left all our native animals, trees, shrubs and grasses will be gone, driven into the ground through the actions of irresponsible idiots.
Sensible licensed grazing by shepherded animals is a practical tool that will not only protect the park to a much greater degree from fire but can also add to the park’s attractiveness for visitors, locals running mobile Dude ranch activities and the like.
Parks are for people Alex, not for the sole use of left wing ideologues hell bent on proving some political point at any expense!
As for Illparpa Rd … you are kidding aren’t you? To keep buffel out of that tiny area quite literally thousands of litres of highly toxic now thought to be carcinogenic sprays has and is being used on a continual basis!
So just how much chemical and how much man power would we need for the park, do you think?

Park fire protection: new management plan doesn’t spell it out
The worst thing about these kinds of documents and plans is that in a world of cut and paste they go on and on often returning to the original. No learning. No advancement.
At least one and probably both of the major fire instances to which the document refers were started by prescribed burning!.
I suspect this latest fire or at least its continuation is also very much down to prescribed burning practices! The Lesson: Prescribed burning puts our parks at much greater risk of wildfire”! And if those traditional owners could only see what their words have led to in practice, they would be utterly horrified!
Time for an inquiry and a whole new plan, along with an extinction event for the original.

West MacDonnells blaze: sorrow and questions
Yes, well its clearly evident the fire management strategies as set out have been thrown all to hell and completely ignored for a considerable period of time.
As a result the damage done to the Western Macs, particularly the eastern end, is immeasurable, horrific, particularly when you take into account present weather outlook.
Whatever wildlife is left will probably starve. This may well be an extinction event for some species, as the ranges are very much the last refuge for some.
Just a few short years of park mismanagement have done more damage than 200 years of heavy stocking even overstocking could.
It’s time for an open public inquiry into the land use and management of this area, which is of strategic importance to the future of our environment, our tourism sector and our pastoralists on the extremities.
Tourism in the Centralian region was founded not on Ayers Rock as many might imagine, but on the Western Macs! They are of the utmost importance to our future!
We cannot let this moment pass without questioning all that has taken place.
I like others share a deep sense of sadness and loss at this devastation, trees and habitat that were literally hundreds of years old in the most precious of places have gone!
It will take centuries without devastating fire in these places to replace them! That is how immense the loss is!
So let’s not waste our time on apologies and excuses, let’s get to the bottom of this thing, let’s have a long hard look at the value of advice and management practices that led us to this place, then figure out a better way of doing things from this time on.

Be Sociable, Share!