I hope that if Mr Buxton is responsible for releasing …

Comment on Officers a leap ahead of councillors on parks by Hal Duell.

I hope that if Mr Buxton is responsible for releasing the 2004 Draft Urban Open Space Assets Report, he comes in for a commendation, not a condemnation.
Consider the wealth of information it contains relating to how Council views the parklands in Alice Springs and their responsibility for them. None of that information needs to be kept secret. There is far too much of that in Council’s dealings with the rest of us.
I have long suspected that that reliance on confidentiality is, more than anything else, a method of maintaining unaccountable executive control over the workings of what is our third tier of elected government. The bureaucrats are not the bosses, although I suspect they might think otherwise.
Far better to get these reports out into the public realm, especially after they have been considered and either adopted or, as is the case here, rejected. Then we can all have a read and, where clearly called for, offer corrections. Such as referring to Walmulla Park as being of no use and of no possible use when it is used all the time.
It is also instructive to know that Ashwin and Finlayson parks were to be redeveloped, not sold, and that the public space within each was to be consolidated, not shrunk to a fraction of what each was. This terminology was considered advisable so as not to alarm the near-by residents who were known to be vocal. Kept secret, such thinking can only be considered sneaky.
I think something similar was (is?) considered for Oleander Park, a (re)development clearly not to the liking of some of its more vocal neighbours.
It is also instructive to learn that some “parks” are hilltops or drains or blocks with a sacred site on them. Clearly Council can do little with such blocks in the way of offering a viable public park, and perhaps they could be sold or otherwise taken off Council’s books.
And perhaps Council can be more vigilant in the future to ensure developers don’t off-load unusable blocks when complying with their obligations to provide open space in any new development.
We have a right to know these things, to know in advance what Council is considering. Public consultation is all well and good, but there is no obligation that I am aware of compelling Council to take more than a passing glance at what may come out of any such consultation.
If Council were to bite the bullet, and this current Council might just be the one to do this, and allow us the electorate greater access into their deliberations, they just might find more support and more understanding and more respect for what they are doing.
Governments across Australia and the world are on the nose these days, and a lack of trust lies at the heart of that. We elect them to act for us, not to lecture us from behind a curtain of confidentiality.

Recent Comments by Hal Duell

Ministers lash out at council over gallery
I appeal to the NT government, especially to Ministers Gunner and Wakefield, to reconsider their approach to building the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs.
I doubt if many residents, and certainly not a majority, would be opposed to the gallery being built here. But why do you need to destroy what we have (an old high school, a central oval and a debt-free and functioning civic centre) to do that?
It’s not like we’re short of space down here.
It’s a bit unfair to ask council to solve your location problem when to date both of your proposals have presented it with a solution impossible to sell to the residents. And remember, councillors also face the coming elections.
Indigenous suggestions range from the Desert Park to the Desert Knowledge precinct.
It’s not negotiating if you reject in advance any suggestions other than your own.
And a note to council: The NT Government has clearly stated through Minister Wakefield that these discussions can be held in open. Time for you to stop hiding from us. Let’s hear what you have to say.


Locally produced hemp could replace plastic
This is a very good initiative. Congratulations to the Gunner government.
Hemp is a not only a better fibre than cotton, but growing it uses less water and fewer chemicals. What not to like?
Again, congratulations to the Gunner government.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
Perhaps one of the more astonishing features of this continuing saga is the overweening arrogance of Alice’s current group of councillors.
They somehow think they have the right to dispose of our civic centre.
They forget they were elected to look after our assets, not use them as bargaining chips in some shady back-room deal.
Commercial-in-confidence is such a scam. Come on councillors – I challenge any of you to grow a pair.


Despite clear leads, no-one was punished for making this mess
It can be done. Read this.


US military base in Darwin: what risk to NT?
The Opium Wars are over. China won. And all this “containment” and forward posturing is more like dogs barking in the night while the caravan moves on.
Poor Oz! Hanging like a pendulum between London and Washington with (just) the Kiwis for company. That means Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. What can go wrong?


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