As a former active member of the CLP but never …

Comment on Sensible infrastructure for the NT? by Alex Nelson.

As a former active member of the CLP but never a beneficiary of the “silver circle”, I agree with much of Bob Durnan’s assessment of the track record of mismanagement of the NT under self-government. But the blame is not all to be laid exclusively at the feet of the CLP.
I well recall the fierce criticism leveled by the ALP against the CLP, its “silver circle” mates and cronies, and so on in the late 1980s and early ’90s. For example, in November 1989 the Member for the Northern Territory, Warren Snowdon (in his first term in politics), made exactly these kinds of allegations in the Federal Parliament, including generalized claims of corruption. Chief Minister Marshall Perron challenged Snowdon to use parliamentary privilege in Canberra to specify the exact nature of all these allegations. Snowdon never did.
That example was typical of the nature of the debate at that time – lots of allegations and outrage coming from the Labor side, most notably the NT Trades and Labor Council, but never any specific details. That created an impression of endless muckraking and point-scoring on the part of Labor which actually AIDED the CLP’s grip on power!
Nowhere was this more evident than during the course of 1990 when the CLP was at its most vulnerable since its inception in 1974. I attended a CLP Central Council meeting in Tennant Creek in April 1990 where I witnessed Chief Minister Marshall Perron on the verge of an emotional breakdown in front of all the party’s delegates, such was the pressure he was under.
Yet fantastically the Left of politics came to the CLP’s rescue just two months later. It started with the convenor of the NT Greens, Bob Ellis (formerly the CEO of the NT Sacred Sites Authority and hugely despised within the CLP) launching a scathing attack against the leadership of NT Labor leader Terry Smith, stating that Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse could do just as good a job of leading the ALP.
In late September it was the turn of the NT Trades and Labor Council president Mark Crossin (husband of Trish Crossin, who was later to become a Labor senator for the NT) who also lashed the NT Labor leadership. In early October, Marshall Perron called an early election and – as the Centralian Advocate headline succinctly put it – Labor was “thumped”.
In short, what I’m saying is that the Labor Party contributed significantly to the long-term electoral success of the CLP. Was that deliberate on the part of certain members of the Territory’s political left?
It’s further to be noted that many of the projects and visions for developing the NT predated the CLP’s existence. The long-serving and highly respected Labor MP Jock Nelson was an ardent supporter of developing the north, not least in advocating gas pipeline developments from Mereenie to service major mine site developments such as Gove, Macarthur River and Mt Isa. (Incidentally, only two decades ago it was NT Labor that was pushing for the NT to build a gas pipeline to link south with Moomba – Barkly MLA Maggie Hickey was especially strong on this – and taking the stick to the CLP for failing to do this rather than the CLP’s preferred option of a gas pipeline to Gove!)
I could go on with other examples but to sum up – it takes two to tango. And the past invariably comes round to bite us all on the bum!

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.

Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Bob Taylor (Posted August 14, 2019 at 8:38 am): In this case grass wasn’t the problem, Bob, as even hard up against the trunk of the tree I noticed that none of it was burnt.
What seems to have happened was that a campfire was lit under one of the old exposed support roots of the tree and it was from this source that the flames spread into the trunk.
The roots in turn have been exposed by erosion exacerbated by the lowering of the river bed over a decade ago for flood mitigation.
The lowering of the river bed has also enabled campers to conceal themselves better from view. Unless the river bed is physically patrolled, no-one else knows they are there.

Invasive buffel grass soon part of international focus
The caption for the photo: “Dense infestation buffalo grass in land near the Alice Springs airport” brings back some memories. During my years at school in the 1970s, invariably when I spoke about buffel grass everyone thought I meant buffalo grass, a common variety of garden lawn. [ED– the autocorrect of ‘buffalo’ for ‘buffel’ has now been corrected, thanks Alex.]
As my home was at AZRI and then the new CSIRO field station next door, I was completely familiar with buffel grass during the time when its systematic introduction for dust control (especially for the Alice Springs Airport) and improved pasture was fully underway.
However, this was still the time when buffel grass was not yet dominant in the landscape so most people were unfamiliar with it.

Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!

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