My thanks to Tellus Managing Director, Duncan van der Merwe, …

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

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.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Salt mine: Alice needs to grasp a major opportunity
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.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Code of conduct allegations ‘vexatious, frivolous’ – councillor
To my mind this raises the question as to whether Jimmy Cocking and other councillors have been subjected to an act of defamation.
Resorting to my old trusty Concise Macquarie Dictionary, I found the following definition of the word ‘defamation’: “the wrong of injuring another’s reputation without good reason or justification; calumny; slander or libel.”
It seems to me that the complaint which has led to the code of conduct process, which has been found to be “vexatious and frivolous,” may fit that definition.
If an offence of this nature has been committed, then it begs the question as to the legality of covering up the identity/ies of the complainant/s.
Is it appropriate for government, or an arm of government, to rely on confidentiality to frustrate the possibility of holding a person or persons to account for their actions if they might possibly be in breach of the law?


Air traffic: Looking down on Alice
Interesting to hear that the Alice Springs Airport was blindsided by Qantas’s announcement for flight schedule changes and deletions.
I wonder if that offers any portents about our chances of hosting the airline’s second pilot school? Far from being The Centre, we seem more and more to be on the outer.


No youth detention facilities in residential areas: MLAs
It’s only in comparitively recent times that we’ve developed an abhorrence to gaols and juvenile detention facilities within or near suburbia.
There are two heritage-listed old gaols in or close to the CBD area of town. The old gaol in Stuart Terrace – now the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame – was built in 1938, simultaneously with the old Alice Springs Hospital and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, all neighbours along the same street frontage facing Stuart Park.
There was also new housing on the other side of Stuart Park (now a historical precinct) where the top bureaucrats and civil servants of the day lived, all in close proximity to the gaol. Nobody minded.
In the early 1960s more housing was built between the old Alice Springs Gaol and the new Traeger Park oval. Our family moved into a new residence on Telegraph Terrace on the block between the gaol and Traeger Park, living there for three years.
There was also a new motel (Midlands) and primary school (Traeger Park) built within a short distance of the old gaol – again, nobody was fussed about it.
In 1977 the first juvenile detention facility in the NT, called Giles House, was officially opened by Senator Bernie Kilgariff on the corner of South Terrace and Kempe Street in the Gap area.
I’m unaware that anyone objected to its presence in that suburban location.
There were many escapes from the old gaol and Giles House over the years, it’s nothing new.
It wasn’t until the new Correctional Facility was opened in 1996 that the practice commenced of putting gaols well outside of the town area. Now many of us think that’s a normal situation but, from a historical viewpoint, it’s quite unusual.
If a juvenile detention facility is established near the Desert Knowledge Precinct, it’s still a considerable distance from the nearest suburban area of Kilgariff.
Seems to me some people are considerably overstating the risks and simply giving vent to their prejudices.


Independents now ineffective?
Alice Springs has a long tradition of CLP members becoming independent representatives, starting with Rod Oliver (Member for Alice Springs) who lost preselection to Denis Collins in 1980; Denis Collins (Member for Sadadeen) who in turn lost preselection to Shane Stone in 1987 and was twice re-elected as an independent; and likewise Loraine Braham (Member for Braitling) who lost CLP preselection in 2000 but went on to win two subsequent campaigns.
One might include Ray Hanrahan (Member for Flynn) who resigned from the CLP in mid 1988 and continued as an independent for about three months before his resignation from politics. By the standards outlined by Steve Brown, Hanrahan took the honourable course but the subsequent by-election on September 10, 1988, didn’t work out too well for the CLP – the party came last out of three candidates with a swing of over 21% against it, and it was CLP preferences that enabled NT Nationals candidate Enzo Floreani to take the seat.
And then there was Alison Anderson (Member for MacDonnell) who resigned from the ALP and ricocheted from the CLP to Palmer United Party to independent (I forget the exact order).
One can go back over half a century, when independent Member for Alice Springs, Colonel Lionel Rose, announced in the NT Legislative Council in August 1965 that he was the leader of a new political party, the North Australia Party – and he was strongly supported by Non-Official Member, Bernie Kilgariff, who worked in close association with Rose.
The NAP didn’t last very long – it was wiped out in the elections of October 1965, with only one candidate, Tony Greatorex, winning the seat of Stuart. Greatorex, in turn, joined the Country Party when it was established in July 1966.
Whatever one may personally think about elected members changing their allegiances while in office, there’s never been a legal case against anybody (and that goes for other parliaments, too) obliging a sitting member to resign because they’ve changed their minds about party memberships. It’s up to voters to decide their fates whenever elections are called.


Anzac Oval will be site for gallery: Gunner
Twenty years ago Alice Springs found itself in a remarkably similar situation.
The NT Government was determined to demolish the old gaol in Stuart Terrace and replace it with infill development (all the rage at the time). The NTG was CLP and, under Chief Minister Shane Stone, had been returned to power with an overwhelming majority of 18 members.
There was resistance from local residents determined to save the old gaol as a heritage site. The arguments we’re reading and hearing today over the old Anzac high school and oval site for the NAAG are markedly similar – nearly identicial in many respects – to the bitter dispute that raged for months those two decades ago.
What was the outcome? The NT Government lost on two counts; first, the old gaol was saved; and second, the CLP lost office at the next general elections in 2001.
The CLP had been in power for 27 years but the current Labor government, behaving in exactly the same fashion as the CLP 20 years ago, is only halfway in its first term.
We live in a time where political party allegiances are evaporating, and voters can and do switch their support in no uncertain manner.
Given the astonishing high handed arrogance of the Gunner Government, it seems fairly clear it will suffer at the hands of the voters at the next Territory elections.
History – and contemporary politics – unequivocally demonstrates that big margins provide no protection in the polls anymore.
The inference is obvious.


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