As DD looms: Where Is Wazza?

Snowdon no hair COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Being such a lovely small town Alice Springs presents wonderful opportunities to have one’s fingers in lots of pies without having to try very hard.

 

p2122-Chansey-PaechTake Chansey Paech (at left), for example. He’s a town councillor, he’s the Labor candidate for the Territory seat of Namatjira, he’s the president of the Alice Springs branch of the Labor and he works for the Federal Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon (above right). That puts him on the Federal payroll, as he was previously at least partly and less directly so, as an employee of CAAMA.

 

Warren is the president of the Labor Party in the NT – at least I think so. Labor’s website doesn’t make that clear. I know he used to be. Chansey could have probably told me if he had returned my calls.

 

He mostly doesn’t. That puts him at odds with fellow Labor candidates Dale Wakefield (Braitling) and Scott McConnell (Stuart) who freely share with the readers of the Alice Springs News Online their ambitions and views.

 

p2113-Michael-GunnerChansey has his aversion to answering questions in common with former Alice lad Michael Gunner (at right), now the tongue-tied Leader of the Opposition.

 

It’s such a pity, because we’d like to ask one or the other or both:-

 

• Will the oil and gas barons be able to take the Territory to the cleaners, as Adam Giles suggests, if Labor brings in a fracking moratorium?

 

• What would need to happen for the moratorium to end?

 

• Do they have a response to Adam raising sovereign risk as an issue?

 

• Or do they agree with his mines department boss Ron Kelly that it works in our favour?

 

• What have they done about Port Darwin, we’d like to ask, about its Chinese lessees and Adam, other than doing a Pauline Hanson: “I don’t like it.”

 

And so on.

 

So, the Territory has the misfortune of having a government and an opposition in a contest for who can be less transparent.

 

But so far as deathly silence goes, no-one does it better than Warren.

 

I’m greatly indebted to the ABC for reminding me of him, by inviting me to appear on their Marginalia program airing on Sunday mornings, which is of course about marginal Federal seats. And Warren’s is right up there: He is holding Lingiari, that’s all of the NT except Darwin, by less than 1%.

 

Gosh, here I was preparing for the interview, and I could not for the life of me remember when we last had something to report about Wazza.

 

I googled our seven million word archive. Yes, in 2007 he got a peripheral mention in a letter to the editor about Mark Latham.

 

It was an election year. He stood against Adam Giles in Lingiari who campaigned with the brave, if politically ill-considered  slogan: “No more sit-down money.” Well, did Warren have a ball with that: You gunna vote for someone who’s going to take your dole away? Nahhh.

 

In 2012 a businessman was seeking his support, and there was a “no comment” from him on a health funding issue.

 

In 2013 we reported that he was supporting a very expensive government-funded program under which Robert de Castella took a very small number of young Indigenous people to run in the New York marathons.

 

In the media section of Warren’s own website, the most recent and only release for 2016 was on February 3 when he “acknowledged the passing of renowned architect Paul Pholeros”.

 

The one before that was on July 10, 2013, a transcript of a Sky News interview about the impact of Yirrkala Bark Petitions.

 

Warren released 14 media statements in 2013 in the lead-up to the Federal election. Then nothing for 30 months! Apparently nothing worth reporting on happened in that period for Warren. His constituents will no doubt agree, nothing meaningful happened for them so far as his performance is concerned.

 

 

p2009-aldermen,-Snowdon,-AnOur Where Is Warren Google search continues. 2013 was clearly a big year for him, before the election, that is. In March we have a photo of him among aldermen at the rubbish dump for which he’d organised a  Federal grant.

 

But try as I might, there was no trace of an informed, creative, perceptive analysis by him of the intractable problems of the NT, let alone an enlightened suggestion of what to do about them. More funding is about the extent of it, so much so that we have long labelled him “More Money, More Money Snowdon.”

 

His present day base salary is $199,040. That would make it, in today’s money, around $6m for the 30-odd years he’s been in Parliament, not counting add-ons for additional Parliamentary jobs, although they have been rare. Nor would that include the massive staff and travel costs incurred by someone whose contribution to the NT has been so paltry.

 

By far our longest serving politician (1987 to 1996 and from 1998 to the present) surely Warren could be expected to be the doyen of the Territory politicians, our elder statesman. However, it’s a case of the lights are on, but no-one’s at home.

 

 

 

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13 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. Peter
    Posted June 1, 2016 at 9:17 am

    @ Dave: Ah, Wozzawatch! You are performing a wonderful public service!
    I thought I saw him on the telly last night waffling on about the Brownlow Medalist (which is similar to the captain’s pick but it is chosen by the umpires, not the fans).
    Closer inspection revealed it may have been that darned Captain Pugwash without the parrot and eyepatch cardboard cutout again.
    Which is a pity. It would be intriguing to see him in the flesh and ask him about the demise of Trish Crossin in the flesh.

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  2. Dave
    Posted May 31, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Spotted again at the footy in Alice on Saturday and in Darwin city today with Chancey Paech, who must have been absent from last night’s Alice Springs Town Council meeting? I can confirm Warren is alive and looks well.

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  3. Dave
    Posted May 28, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Spotted last night, with Bill Shorten at a Reconciliation Week event. In the heart of his electorate, Melbourne. Oh wait …

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  4. Bev Emmott
    Posted March 25, 2016 at 5:45 am

    With all that was done for the Aboriginals, what was done for the whites? Some whites are out of jobs and money because the Aboriginals just had to have it all.
    Teach the Aboriginals the meaning of the words to share. Last night while out on a walk there were plenty out but one young Aboriginal was outstanding as she threw an empty milk carton over a fence.
    Not important – well, those in Alice have been subject to this kind of treatment for years and those young kids are repeating learned from their birth and coming from the attitude that somehow Aboriginals have rights above everyone else. Their supporters are helped but anyone who dares to criticize will be pushed out of town with no prospects and all their possessions taken.

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  5. Emily
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Peter, I’m not at all a true believer and didn’t vote for Warren last time but might this time around.
    You criticise him for doing helpful things that won’t get him votes, like speaking out against animal cruelty.
    I say good on him.
    You say that “Being active outside the public eye doesn’t get you too many votes, either”.
    Once again thanks Warren.
    You reckon that Warren could tell you what your organisation can expect in the form of funding from his mob should they do the unexpected and win the next election.
    So you credit Warren with the power and influence at the Federal level to tell you that even before the election and before ministerial appointments and a cabinet decision.
    Yes, I will vote for him next time.

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  6. Paul Parker
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    For my family Warren Snowdon remains clearly the MP who supports segregation of Australian families using racial testing.
    This what he supports being done to our family, even after Robert Tickner as Minister admitted these matters needed to be judicially resolved.
    So some in our family hold him personally responsible for our ongoing difficulties obtaining the legal representation required by the courts to obtain these essential judicial determinations.
    Warren Snowdon provides ongoing support for racism, apartheid and segregated communities, rather than equality of rights, responsibility and opportunity.

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  7. Jim Stuart
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Just because they aren’t talking to you Erwin doesn’t mean they aren’t talking to people in their electorate.
    I’ve spoken to Wazza many times … often to argue with him.

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  8. Peter
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    @ Emily: Ah, a true believer!
    You are right, he has never faced a credible opponent but please name me one Territory politician who has, hence the quality of the government we keep getting.
    Despite that, he did get beaten once, admittedly when Lingiari included Darwin and there was the “anyone but Labor” vote against Keating. He would have lost last time too had the Barkly CLP branch not knocked on at the scrum.
    Please don’t use “bush”, “organisation” and “well funded” in the same sentence at the moment. This is for your own safety. People wearing white bed sheets and carrying flaming crosses and rope nooses will start camping outside your door.
    As for being a Minister the Member for Lingiari should never, ever be one, no matter how talented they are simply because it is the toughest electorate in Australia by a country mile.
    It covers the whole Territory except for Darwin as well as the Indian Ocean Territories (Christmas Island and Cocos and Keeling). Really, it is impossible to cover it all effectively.
    Last time I checked, there actually isn’t a dog track in his electorate – racing dogs is actually banned in Tennant Creek according to the old Town Council by-laws – so I can’t see that exporting greyhounds, as cruel a practice as that may be, is really a red-letter issue for Lingiari constituents.
    “Stop the Boats” was a vote-winner for Tony. I can’t see “Stop The Dogs” appearing any time soon on Wozza’s coreflutes.
    “Still active in less public ways”? Seriously? Being active outside the public eye doesn’t get you too many votes, either. As Erwin’s rather excellent piece points out, we probably don’t expect nation-building announcements out of him on a weekly basis when he’s in Opposition but we do expect to see him from time to time.
    From a personal perspective, I would kinda like to know what my organisation can expect in the form of funding from his mob should they do the unexpected and win the next election, especially since the media are telling me that is probably less than four months away.
    I don’t want to talk to Chancey, nor do I want to talk to The Pelican. I want to rub eyebrows with Wozza and I am sure there are many people across this vast electorate who feel the same.
    I thought I may have seen him briefly at the last Tennant Show but I couldn’t be sure (someone told me it was a cardboard cut-out with moving arms and legs, something like a bizarre Captain Pugwash without the eye patch and parrot). Who knows.
    What Erwin is 100 per cent right on is that the Territory has never needed an elder statesman more, particularly on the left side of politics.
    Territorians have suffered through the worst three and a half years of Parliament, not just government, since self-government. I think the only Member who at this stage is still in exactly the same place as when he started in 2012 is Gerry Wood and if you are very kind you only call him eccentric.
    Wozza has been around long enough to have earned the voice of reason role. It’s a pity for all of us that he won’t use it.

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  9. Emily
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Warren has strong support in the bush and with Aboriginal organisations.
    He has delivered a lot for those organisations over the years, he is part of true reason they are so well funded.
    He has never faced a credible opponent.
    His party is out of government now and he has no ministerial position so there is less for him to announce and say.
    But he is still active in less public ways, working locally and also federally – taking the Feds to task over cruel greyhound exports for example.

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  10. Warren Who?
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    I saw him once in the mall sitting at a stall.
    Don’t know what he was selling. But didn’t seem like much interest.
    What an embarrassment he is and all those Labor acolytes who follow him around. 30 years and all he has done is not be a CLP pollie.
    What an embarrassment for the Territory electorate. Vote independent.

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  11. Hal Duell
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 6:55 am

    We used to have Silent Sam.
    Now it’s Where’s Warren.
    Bi-partisan politics in the NT.

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  12. Joe L Suttie
    Posted March 7, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    “By far our longest serving politician (1987 to 1996 and from 1998 to the present) surely Warren could be expected to be the doyen of the Territory politicians, our elder statesman. However, it’s a case of the lights are on, but no-one’s at home.”
    lol!
    We have those birds in the USA too.
    Well Written Piece!
    Praying for the folks of Alice Springs.
    May The LORD bless your socks off this year.
    In Jesus, Amen.

    Love, Joe

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  13. Peter
    Posted March 7, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Yes Erwin, it is an election year. Yes, notionally Lingiari is marginal based on the last go-around.
    But Wozza knows he can send a sock puppet out this time and he will still win in a canter.
    He’s up against Tina again and she hasn’t exactly been making a pest of herself either.
    She probably may have won last time if the Barkly CLP branch had given her any support, making it the only time that august body has actually done anything to help the Territory.
    But a lot of things have happened since that election. Voting for the CLP has become something you get a mate pissed then challenge them to do as a dare, while Tina’s water and land deals have that faint aroma of a treatment plant around the next bend.
    The Prime Minister is rapidly beginning to share the same sentiment with voters as the last person with his Christian name to share his current address.
    Of course, Electricity Bill is never going to be a viable alternative to many people and anybody who thinks Mr Gunner is the answer has just been asked a very silly question indeed.
    But Wozza has remained remarkably squeaky clean through the turbulence of the past three years. Some will argue that it’s hard to stuff up when you are doing absolutely nothing but hey, isn’t it incumbent on the CLP to actually force him to at least say something?

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