Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 14 »

April 5, 2012

Port Augusta’s Mayor: When softly-softly diplomacy isn’t enough to get a town out of the morass

 

Under the no-holds-barred Mayor Joy Baluch, the Port Augusta council drives the local state and federal agencies, not the other way round. They are held to account in monthly meetings. This has gone a long way towards a solution of what was a near-terminal anti-social behavior and alcohol crisis. Could it be the template for the councillors and Mayor taking the reins in Alice Springs on Monday? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

 

“Port Augusta is alcohol free. You cannot drink in a public square. If you want to drink you go home, to a pub or a club. You will not drink in the streets and you will not sit on the beach and consume alcohol.
“And you will not create havoc and unsocial behaviour. You piss off back to Alice Springs to the Todd River. That’s where you go because in Port Augusta, City Council rules and regulations must be complied with.”
What about people who contravene that regulation?
“They are dealt with appropriately, are put on a bus and sent somewhere else.”
Who puts them on the bus?
“Our Safety Officer does.”
And that person plays a very major role in the town.
Nancy Joy Baluch – her friends call her Joy – doesn’t mince words. She has served as the Mayor of Port Augusta from 1981 to 1993 and from 1995 till now. That she’s battling cancer wasn’t at all evident in our telephone conversation yesterday.
“In 1981 we had a town square. It would have drunken whites, drunken blacks, fornicating in public, in the presence of tourist buses,” she says.
“Our tourist trade went down to zero. Port Augusta became a place not to be seen in.
“Today we are a tourist destination. We have turned our image around.
“People who lived here some 30 years ago, are just overwhelmed by the transformation.”

But don’t expect results overnight, says the feisty Mayor.

PHOTOS: Top – Once a dirty recess, a haven for vagrants and drinkers, the beach and foreshore are now the town’s playground. Above right – Mayor Baluch. Photos courtesy Port Augusta City Council (the Mayor) and The Transcontinental Port Augusta (aerial shot). FULL STORY »

$4m to expand services for seniors as Frontier turns 100

 

Care for old people in Alice Springs will get a boost with a $6.6m  expansion program at the  Old Timers Village, part of Frontier Services, which is now entering its second century of serving The Centre.
At the Old Timers Village on the South Stuart Highway, Flynn Lodge – at the northern end of the complex – will double in size with a 20 bed extension.
These will be for “high care” occupants.
An administration centre will be built south of the museum.
The Old Timers Home will also undergo extensive renovations to the Rosetta Flynn Wing at the front of the complex.
The Hetti Perkins Home in Percy Court, entirely for Aboriginal people and also run by Frontier Services, will double in size from 40 to 80 beds.
It has the full range of care.

PHOTOS: At top – Margaret Pickard in the showpiece front yard of her and her husband’s cottage. Above right – Jocelyn Rose is tended by Vimbai Macheza. FULL STORY »

Conroy’s NBN rollout timetable is a guessing game

Who likes a good old puzzle? Try this one for size.
“The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced 65,200 Northern Territory homes and businesses will have access to National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre services under NBN Co’s first three year fibre rollout plan.”
Yes, but three years from when?
“The indicative three year rollout plan lists the Northern Territory locations where construction of the national fibre network will begin between 1 April 2012 and 30 June 2015.”
That’s a margin between next week and three years plus three months from now.

So it’s just an “indicative” plan, yes?
“Locations where work will begin before 30 June 2015.”
That’s three years and three months from now.

[See FULL STORY for locations.]
“Summary of three year indicative rollout plan.”
Here’s that word “indicative” again.
“This [meaning the dark green blotches on the map pictured] is the NBN rollout activity in your area.”
Note: It seems the farm areas will miss out. Will they?
“Fibre | Work to commence within three years – we will commence work in your area from Jun 2013.”
That’s actually one year and three months from now.
On ya, Steve. Keep ’em guessing. FULL STORY »

NT’s grog policy focus remains on public drinkers and drunk offenders

The NT Government continues to focus its alcohol policy reforms on “problem drinkers”, seen as those who commit alcohol-related crime.

Minister for Alcohol Policy, Delia Lawrie, has introduced legislation to Territory parliament that gives police and the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Tribunal “additional tools to get problem drinkers out of public places and into rehabilitation”.

Police will have the power to issue an infringement notice to people drinking in a public place within two kilometres of licensed premises and causing a nuisance to other persons. This will be in in addition to their existing power to tip out grog.

The infringement notice will be linked to the Banned Drinker Register, increasing “the ability of police to target repeat offenders and direct them into treatment”.

The AOD Tribunal will be able to force problem drinkers into rehabilitation and also to make orders that a person be subject to income management.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Conservative British Government proposing to introduce a floor price for alcohol in the UK, a floor price at least for the NT has again become a hot debating point.  – Kieran Finnane FULL STORY »

Funding announcements flow for ‘Stronger Futures’ in Aboriginal communities

The spectre of outstations and homelands in the Northern Territory forsaken by governments has receded, at least for another decade.

A $221 million “investment” to provide them with basic essential and municipal services over 10 years was announced this week by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, joined by Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon and NT Senator Trish Crossin.

Although the total funding sounds large, in reality it is basically more of the same, as the Australian Government has been providing the NT Government with $20 million each year since 2007 for this purpose.

They are boosting their contribution over the decade by $6m and the NT Government is kicking in $15m.

In another announcement, $619 million was allocated to remote policing, community night patrols and legal assistance services.

This will enable the NT Government to continue employing 60 full-time NT police officers in 18 remote communities, and build an additional four permanent remote area police complexes in communities.

The figures climbed today, with new announcements in Alice Springs. There will be $719 million over 10 years for better primary health care and improved access to dental and allied health services, and another $443 million over 10 years for playgroups, home and parenting support services, youth workers and safe houses. – Kieran Finnane FULL STORY »