Developing what?

p2150-Supreme-CourtCOMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Development was the mantra of the CLP when it fought for election three years ago. With just a year to run in its first term on the treasury benches, after a decade in the political wilderness, where are we at?

 

We in The Centre are still in the economic wilderness: Not much is happening aside from throwing public money at police stations and a courthouse (pictured) that may sadly be necessary but are producing nothing.

 

Let’s look at private investment in the context of that other election promise – cutting red tape, and dealing with investors in a professional manner.

 

The $100m Melanka project is in limbo as government planning and development approvals are still not to hand.

 

The project is also uncertain because in the absence of statutory approvals, the 170 dwellings, the 85 room hotel, professional office space, restaurants, cafes and a 110 place child care centre can’t be offered for sale. Without firm sale contracts in hand for much of the space the developers would be unlikely to go ahead.

 

The projects put up by the Hatzimihail group seem extravagant but, having been formally proposed, they deserve professional consideration.

 

The first one, centred on some 10 hectares in the Desert Knowledge precinct, has now been dragging on for about two years.

 

In an update we published on June 25 we quoted an experienced broker as saying that setting up deals of this kind normally has a time frame of 90 days: It’s either in the can by then, or the deal’s off.

 

Now spokesman Alex Hatzimihail has made it clear the group has given up on Desert Knowledge and is negotiating with the trust managing the Blatherskite Park show grounds.

 

As we reported this week, a key condition in the Letter of Intent is that the Blatherskite Park Land Trust “will require a solid financial position to be appropriately presented by THG [The Hatzimihail Group] that will demonstrate both the ability to commence The Project on a stage by stage basis and to complete The Project in its entirety as agreed between the parties.”

 

The clock should now be ticking now on the 90 days: Prove you’ve got the money and we’ll go for it.

 

Watch this space.

 

Another government inspired private enterprise project is Whittaker Street with a railway station, hotel, shops and cultural gallery.

 

According to a seasoned commercial developer, when such a project is awarded to a company – in this case Sitzlers – it is standard procedure in Australia for all the submissions to be made public so that The People, who own part of the land, can judge the government’s decision.

 

The Alice Springs News Online asked on June 25: “Can I please have copies of the agreements between the government and Whittaker Street Developments?” We also asked what was the value of the public land put into the deal.

 

This was the response: “While negotiations are ongoing with the proponent the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment is not able to provide any further information. The agreement is confidential.  This process is governed by the Crown Lands Act and does not fall within the NT Procurement Act.”

 

p1845lambleyrobynWe asked newly Independent MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley (pictured) to find out a few things – after all for the best part of three years she was a CLP Member and Minster and was till sitting in the centre of political power in the NT.

 

Acting on a tip-off from a substantial source, we wrote to her on August 5: “It seems there is no substance to [the Whitaker Street project] – a charade to give the impression of development while there is none (beyond government buildings that make no lasting difference to our economy).

 

“Can you please provide me the following. All this would be answered as a matter of routine in other jurisdictions but has so far been denied to us:

 

“Who apart from Sitzlers put in an expression of interest?

 

“Copies of the Sitzler and any other expressions of interest.

 

“Valuation of the public land made available for the supposed project.

 

“Its current status.”

 

Ms Lambley replied:  “I’ve reached media saturation point and I will not be doing any media for the time being.”

 

 

UPDATE 11:10am

 

Ms Lambley provided the following statement:-

 

Since becoming an Independent about two months ago I have been spending my time actively engaging with my electorate – door-knocking, markets, attending functions, schools, sporting and community events etc.

 

I now have more time to canvas the view of residents and actively assist people.

 

For the most part it is business as usual, however the shadow of the imminent changes to electoral boundaries is cast over the future.

 

The final electoral redistribution will be tabled in the September sittings of Parliament.

 

It has been a contentious time with my resignation from the CLP and the redistribution involving the likely scrapping of the Electorate of Araluen.

 

I cannot see much  value in engaging in the media until this redistribution is resolved.

 

Parliament sits for the first time in months next week. This is the first sittings for the CLP minority Government. A fascinating and challenging period in NT Politics.

 

I respect the Alice Springs News and will communicate with you when I am ready.

 

 

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8 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Melanie Ross
    Posted August 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Apologies Erwin. I thought it was unlikely for you to have missed this info.
    [ED – No worries, Melanie.]

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  2. Melanie Ross
    Posted August 25, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Surprised you haven’t reported this Erwin. I’d say Osborne Holdings going belly up is going to have an impact on the Melanka monstrosity.
    https://creditorwatch.com.au/express/asic/organisation/065315531/OSBORNE-FAMILY-HOLDINGS-PTY-LTD
    ED – We have reported it. See http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2015/06/12/receivership-no-obstacle-to-melanka-development/

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  3. Sandi
    Posted August 21, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    @ Observer: The Silver Circle is still alive and well! And Fred, we need a stable government. And Robyn, I live in Araluen, you have not visited our home ever! So I question which part of the community you are working for.

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  4. Fred the Phillestine
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    @ Rita: Well said. Lambley will be of no use as she has no constructive policies, and will not be a voice for the people.
    When the times get tough, she runs away.
    The person who has done a lot for Alice Springs is Adam Giles.

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  5. Rita Clarke
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    What is the concern with boundaries and door knocking?
    CLP won all but Barkly south of Darwin. Did you not listen to your part of the world then?
    You certainly have not listened to the northern end or seniors anywhere in the NT when you spruiked out the very first budget.
    You want to make amends? Speak up in parliament next week and vote true to the people of NT. Turn the tide of arrogance.

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  6. Hal Duell
    Posted August 19, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Alice Springs does not have the capacity in its current state to support the many new development proposals floating around.
    The Melanka Towers are on hold.
    The proposal for a Transport Hub came just before the Ghan services were reduced from twice a week to once.
    The Hatzimihail Group bombed at the Desert Knowdledge precinct, and now has its eyes on Blatherskite Park.
    Is Virgin’s presence in Alice secure?
    All of the above could be, and possibly only would be, possible if the Australian Government loosened our immigration / refugee policy. This would have to include regulations requiring new arrivals to spend a time (five years?) in regional centres.
    That’s us.
    If Australia grasps this chance, then we and other regional centres would gain the mass to grow.

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  7. Fred the Philistine
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Developing what? The people here in Alice Springs and the NT, we need industry! Industry creates wealth and prosperity. We also need to have fewer independent politicians as when the times get tough, they run away. I have seen it before.
    We need to get the people working. People who are on sit down money for long periods of time will never work and will be no benefit to society.
    People need to work, and as everyone say there is work in Alice Springs, so why aren’t they working?

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  8. Observer
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I wonder if the reported connection between Foundation 51 and Sitzlers (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-19/foundation-51-reveals-donations-in-lead-up-to-2012-election/6556948) may have any real or perceived conflict of interest here.

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