Councillor Steve Brown states the proposed Titjikala “salt mine presents …

Comment on Salt mine: Alice needs to grasp a major opportunity by Alex Nelson.

Councillor Steve Brown states the proposed Titjikala “salt mine presents a fantastic opportunity for our community” but to my mind his comment piece suggests the Tellus Holdings presentation to the town council has overtones of an ultimatum to Alice Springs.
There are legitimate questions to be raised about the demand for a sealed 120km road from Alice Springs to the mine site to be paid for by taxpayers.
What immediately springs to my mind is why the same conditions haven’t applied to the massive gold mining operations to the northwest of Alice Springs that have been operating since the mid 1980s.
Surely by now there has been sufficient revenue generated from those mines to offset the cost of sealing the Tanami Road?
This was first called for by the new Member for Stuart, Tony Greatorex, as long ago as 1966, yet to this day the often shocking state of this potentially significant highway route to northwest WA is a perennial topic of debate in the media.
By contrast we have the Tableland and Carpentaria Highways (from the Barkly and Stuart Highways respectively) that converge towards Borroloola which were sealed by the Commonwealth in 1967.
This was done in part to assist the development of the massive McArthur River mine site which at the time was intended to include a new port town based on Centre Island with a population of 10,000 (to put that in perspective, the population of Alice Springs at the time was about 7,000).
However, the development of the McArthur River mine was postponed and didn’t proceed until 1995, becoming a FIFO operation and (as things currently stand) will leave little in improvements for the Gulf Region once the mining operation there eventually ends.
But it will almost certainly be leaving a significant environmental legacy to manage inevitably at great expense to the taxpayer.
For any mining operation, either current or prospective, we all need to start seeing a great deal more in return otherwise we’re just allowing ourselves and the country to be ripped off.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Salt mine: Alice needs to grasp a major opportunity
My thanks to Tellus Managing Director, Duncan van der Merwe, for his comprehensive reply to comments and concerns expressed on this article; and also to Councillor Steve Brown whose letter to Alice Springs News Online seems to have done more to bring this project to public attention than has occurred before.
There’s a lot of information to take note of here and only limited time left for public comment on the draft EIS.
It is a pleasant change to see the public’s right to know acknowledged rather than the hitherto usual modus operandi of business and government operating on the basis of what they consider to be the public’s need to know.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

‘Bring back school based constables’
@ Phil Walcott (Posted March 17, 2018 at 2:55 pm): Interesting comment, Phil, because when I was a student at the Alice Springs High School in the late 1970s there was a school counsellor employed there. Her name was Glynnis McMahon, if my memory serves me right, a highly regarded person who worked at the high school for many years.
She passed away in 1989 as I recall, and maybe wasn’t replaced at a time of increasing budgetary constraint. That’s speculative on my part but given you arrived here in 1993 not long after massive cutbacks to public expenditure including significant attrition of staff positions, that’s probably the reason there were apparently no school counsellors employed here by that time.

Federal study casts light on future source of town water
Our family visited the Rocky Hill lucerne operation in the early 1970s when an open day for the public was held there. It continued to operate throughout the 1970s but was long abandoned by the mid 1980s.
I still have in my possession the Primary Industry flow charts for the development of the horticulture industry in Central Australia from the mid 1980s onwards, courtesy of permission from then Horticulture Senior Technical Officer, Frank McEllister.
One aspect stood out for me, there was no mention of potential horticulture development at Rocky Hill.
I inquired of this with Frank, and he told me that area was excluded from consideration because it was reserved as the future water supply for Alice Springs.
This was at a time when it was still expected the town’s population would reach 50,000 by the turn of the century and the NT Government had officially announced the development of a satellite town on Undoolya Station would proceed.
All of this is now forgotten but history always comes back to bite us in the end.

Cops hush up dangerous joyride
I witnessed a similar incident that evening too, which I think was the same vehicle.
I was walking on the footpath next to the ANZ Bank along Parsons Street when this utility came screeching around the corner from Todd Street and raced towards the Leichhardt Terrace intersection.
The utility turned left and charged up towards Wills Terrace where I lost sight of it.
When I got to the corner of Leichhardt Terrace, I observed the utility speeding over the Wills Terrace Causeway where it spun around the Sturt Terrace roundabout, tyres screeching, and then charged back along the causeway onto Wills Terrace past the Todd Tavern, when I again lost sight of it.
Despite being a block away from most of the action I witnessed, I had no difficulty hearing the young hooligans yelling and shouting. They were clearly defiant and rebellious, and deliberately challenging authorities.
Presumably they felt they had nothing to lose by indulging in this behaviour and were heedless of the possible consequences of their actions.

A good spot for the art gallery?
Hal, this is just the latest attempt to re-purpose Anzac Oval as a village green, first proposed by the Alice Springs Town Council in 1979 and firmly resisted by the rugby codes (and especially by John Reeves, then ALP Alice Springs branch president, rugby league president, elected as alderman on the town council, and not long afterwards elected as Member for the Northern Territory. He is now a Federal Court judge.).
The village green concept was tried again in 1994 when the ASTC attempted to relocate the rugby codes to the Ross Park Oval, enticed there by the promise of lighting to facilitate games at night; and stoutly resisted and defeated by local Eastside residents, led by the Eastside Residents’ Association of which I was then a committee member.
And now here we go again …
Quite apart from the old high school complex, Anzac Oval itself is of considerable historical value as it is the first turfed sports oval in the NT and it was established entirely as a community effort over the summer of 1951-52 – no government assistance involved.
Part of that work was done by the town’s children who were organised by the new Youth Centre into an emu parade on one weekend that cleared the whole area of rocks and sticks.
Ah yes, the bad old days of Commonwealth control.

A good spot for the art gallery?
A follow-up to my previous comment, I’m informed that the asbestos has been removed from the old Anzac Hill High School complex so that is not an issue for the use of those buildings.
I’ve no doubt that old school site is of considerable historical importance to Alice Springs. Nothing should be done to remove them until that history is assessed. There should be no return to the situation that existed in our town in the 1980s, which in fact was the origin of heritage protection legislation in the Northern Territory.

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