@ Peter (Posted July 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm): I …

Comment on Bulldoze vile, medieval Don Dale centre: CLP candidate by Alex Nelson.

@ Peter (Posted July 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm): I wonder, Peter, when it was you were a member of the Alice Springs Branch of the CLP? I note with particular interest your comment: “My disillusionment with the party these days is in part that some of your hierarchy has trampled all over the Westminster system but in the most part, that those same people have trampled all over the conventions of the organisation.”
I was an active local branch member of the CLP from 1984 to 1995, for exactly 10½ years. I joined aged 21; and at age 22, early in 1986, was elected onto the executive committee of the Flynn Branch. Another new member of that committee was Steve Brown but he soon disappeared from the scene.
I also was elected as a Central Council delegate; and in less than two months attended my first meeting which resulted in the resignation of Ian Tuxworth as Chief Minister.
Thus began a period of turmoil and controversy that during the remainder of the late 1980s saw the CLP’s 19 seat majority won in 1983 gradually whittled down to 13 seats – a majority of one – by late 1989. By early 1990 the CLP was facing the real prospect of its first defeat in a general election.
I won’t go into the details as to how the CLP extricated itself from its massive problems but the party went on to win the election campaign of October 27, 1990, and from there proceeded to hold power for another decade.
But in that very success in overcoming the odds the CLP sowed the seeds for its long-term demise. (It’s a remarkable coincidence, incidentally, that at that time in 1990-91 the NT Government built the original Don Dale facility for youth in conflict with the law).
The reason for the CLP’s decay was due to the public’s impression of it as impregnable in office, an image reinforced by mainstream media portrayal of it over many years. The party attracted a significant number of people who sought to use their membership to gain entry into office and/or to gain advantage for themselves – the public interest for wise policy decisions and implementation was increasingly sidelined as a consequence.
I resigned my membership of the CLP on March 14, 1995 – perish the thought, that’s 21 years ago! In my letter of resignation I made the following comments (among others): “Always having a tendency towards idealism, I find myself unwilling to participate in an organisation that places expediency before principle.
“The CLP currently enjoys a position of considerable electoral advantage relative to any other political opponents. Such a perception is attractive to those who seek to exploit their association with the party more for their own benefit rather than for the good of the people.
“Silence as a requirement of party loyalty runs the severe risk of simply providing a cover for questionable activities. The failure to bring certain members to account, no matter who they are or what role they have previously played, leaves the CLP vulnerable to Murphy’s dictum ‘At some time in the life cycle of virtually every organisation, its ability to succeed in spite of itself eventually runs out’.”
I learnt later my letter of resignation was suppressed – a cartoon I drew of new Chief Minister Shane Stone published in the Alice Springs News prompted one prominent local CLP identity to call for my expulsion from the party.
Later that year I went on to publish in four editions of the Alice Springs News, with the assistance of Erwin Chlanda, an account of the extensive infighting over candidate preselections and associated scandalous behaviour during 1993-4 which played a prominent part in my decision to leave the party.
In so doing I became the only person in the CLP’s 42 year history to date to give any kind of public account of the internal machinations of the party.
Only the Alice Springs News was willing to take the risk of publishing this material at a time when the CLP’s political revival in the 1990s was still in the ascendency.
Nothing was learned, and nothing changed for the better. More and more mediocre identities were chosen by the party to positions of power.
When Shane Stone mishandled the statehood campaign in 1998 and lost the support of his colleagues (little more than a year after leading the CLP to a huge election victory), the CLP finally lost its ability to succeed in spite of itself.
When the CLP lost power in 2001, it had been in office continuously for 27 years. It has never really recovered for now, as Peter points out, the CLP faces the prospect that “by the 2020 election [it] will have been in power for just five of the past 20 years”.
A major theme of NT politics at the time of the CLP’s defeat in 2001 was youth crime; and the CLP’s main policy response leading up to then (initiated by Stone and maintained by Dennis Burke) was mandatory sentencing, which prompted widespread and sustained national criticism. Who remembers? What have we learned?
Similarly in the period leading up to their defeat in 2012, Labor had commenced the construction of the huge new prison at Holtze near Darwin to replace the Berrimah jail.
It seems that a new pattern is emerging in Territory politics, namely that get tough policies on law and order precede a change in government.
It’s time for honest and committed individuals to work out a new approach to politics in the Northern Territory, and maybe then we’ll start seeing the resolution of many entrenched problems that have their genesis from literally several decades ago.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Country Liberal Party: custodians ignored on gallery
@ Jack (Posted May 29, 2020 at 2:11 pm): Whatever amount of money “we” decide to “stump up” gives us no right or authority to dictate terms to Indigenous people on how or where their art and culture may be displayed for others.
What they decide might not cost as much as $50m; indeed, it’s the NT Government, not custodians and TOs, that “stumped up” that sum of money so it’s hypocritical to blame the latter.
And, if custodians and TOs decide they don’t want to go down this path at all, then the money becomes a moot point, doesn’t it?

Country Liberal Party: custodians ignored on gallery
Basically, whether from the Labor or Country Liberals, the debate about the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, is all about cultural appropriation of Aboriginal art to suit the ambitions of politicians, bureaucrats and the business sector.
The entire process, subsequent to the steering committee report, has been (and continues to be) completely mishandled arse-about; surely it has to be resolved in the following manner:
1. Do the traditional custodians and owners of this region want or support the concept of a “national” art gallery, either on its own or as part of a cultural centre?
2. If they support this concept, where do they want it to be built?
The answers to these two basic questions would provide the guidance on whether this project is approved or not in the first place, and then (if approved) where it can be built.
It’s their art, their culture, so let’s allow the custodians and TOs to be the primary authority on this matter, and the rest of us to abide by their wishes accordingly.

CLP would build gallery at Desert Park, not Anzac precinct
@ Ray (Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm): The irony of your comment is that the Alice Springs Desert Park, when it was a concept promoted by the NT Government nearly 30 years ago, was touted as a major new attraction for Alice Springs that would attract and / or divert tourists from Uluru – yes, it was going to be the economic game-changer for Central Australia!
As was the casino at the beginning of NT self-government _ who remembers all those high-rollers from Asia it was going to attract to our fair town?
And then the Desert Knowledge Precinct, which would put Central Australia at the forefront of research and development for a billion customers in similar environments around the world! Hallelujah!
Not to mention the very original economic nirvana dreaming, the transcontinental railway from south to north that would open up access to the teeming markets of southeast Asia (that one dates from the 19th century colonial period of South Australia’s control of the Northern Territory).
And now we’ve got the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, just the latest mirage on the desert horizon that self-interested politicians and bureaucrats are urging upon us as the oasis of our economic salvation.

CLP would build gallery at Desert Park, not Anzac precinct
To me the obvious question to ask is this: Assuming the gallery is built at the Alice Springs Desert Park or south of the Gap, or even not at all, who then is going to be held to account for the unnecessary destruction of a perfectly good public asset, the former Anzac Hill High School, at a cost to taxpayers over $2m and for no good reason at all?
By rights this whole issue should be a major political scandal.

Mparntwe custodians: Lhere Artepe does not speak for us
@ Jack (Posted May 26, 2020 at 1:19 am): Change the scale of your figures (upwards, on a massive scale), widen the scope of your scenario, and you’ve got a perfect description of the Northern Territory for the entire period of “responsible” self-government.

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