This reminds me of development plans for a major coal …

Comment on CLP secretly signing Territory away, say Greens by Alex Nelson.

This reminds me of development plans for a major coal deposit at Lake Phillipson in the far north of South Australia being considered by the NT, SA and Commonwealth governments in 1980. It was seen at the time as being a potential major energy source for Darwin and Adelaide.
However, a report published in July 1980 pointed out some problems: “It is of lower energy content than NSW and Queensland steaming coal, the ash fuses at relatively low temperatures, the location is very remote, the coal seam lies in subterranean water.”
But there were also advantages: “The deposit is under a railway line. It is the best coal in South Australia and is likely to prove to be the cheapest domestic source of energy for South Australian power generation.
“The reserves are vast and could be developed on an extremely large scale. The coal may be amenable to gasification, liquification and solvent refining.”
During 1980 the NT Government was actively considering future energy options for the NT, seeking to end the Territory’s reliance for expensive imported crude oil for energy production in all the major towns.
With the construction of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs rail line nearing completion, attention was redirected towards a renewed campaign to construct the railway from Alice Springs to Darwin. The coal deposit in SA “under a railway line” was seen as a neat fit for economic justification of the long-awaited railway to Darwin.
In the 1980 NT election campaign, the CLP announced that a $400m coal-fired power station would be constructed in Darwin (ALP leader Jon Isaac’s proposal earlier that year for a gas pipeline from Central Australia to Darwin was roundly condemned as being impractical and unrealistic).
During the Federal election campaign later that same year the Fraser Coalition Government announced that it would proceed with the railway from Alice Springs to Darwin, much to the delight of Chief Minister Paul Everingham. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
However, Australia plunged into a deep economic recession and the Commonwealth dragged its heels on its rail commitment.
Both the Coalition and Labor promised during the Federal election campaign of early 1983 to proceed with the railway to Darwin; Labor under Bob Hawke won, and then proceeded with delaying tactics to renege on that promise.
The NT Government remained committed to a coal-fired power station until early 1984 but abruptly opted for a gas pipeline from the Centre. It was the Member for Braitling, Roger Vale, who successfully lobbied for the gas pipeline – although he had previously been Jon Isaac’s fiercest critic of the same idea in 1980.
The railway to Darwin finally became a reality 20 years later; and it comes as no surprise that mineral exploration and deposits once regarded as uneconomic in the remote areas of the inland are now perceived in a much more favourable light.
[Mr Vale was an ex-employee of the Magellan oil and gas company with a key role in the Mereenie – Palm Valley oil and gas fields.
The US company says on its website: “In 1960, Magellan acquired its first interests in the Amadeus basin in Australia. Following the discovery of gas at Mereenie and Palm Valley in the mid-1960s, these interests became Magellan’s core producing assets for the next five decades.”
Mr Vale assaulted me at the Alice Springs airport when I challenged him – by now a member of the NT Government – about not giving The Centre priority in the benefits from the Mereenie resources and consenting to exporting them from the region.
The stoush was filmed by the Seven TV network which screened it nation-wide, contributing to my unending national prominence (in a positive way), and not quite so positive in the case of Mr Vale – otherwise a very popular local politician, with whom I enjoyed a very pleasant professional relationship.
Erwin Chlanda, Editor]

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Convention ignored in vote on Opposition
I’m instantly reminded of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in which the state determines what we can believe, giving the example that 2+2=5. When the Party controls all perceptions, whatever it chooses to be the rule becomes a fact.
In 2011 I wrote this limerick:
In 1948 Eric Blair wrote his finest final story
About a regime of deception, so premonitory
Better known as George Orwell
His “1984” did foretell
The contemporary history of the Northern Territory.


Gunner government to hide fiscal facts
It’s difficult to see that the Gunner Government’s behaviour will afford it any advantage when the NT election campaign is underway.


Does non-citizen travel ban apply to US personnel at Pine Gap?
Hmm – in defence of the nation, or simply in defence of Defence? Whatever fence Defence is straddling, one hopes it isn’t topped with security mesh or barbed wire.


Work on six storey accommodation complex to start in May
@ Charlie Carter (Posted March 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm): Regardless of whether due process and opportunity for public input has occurred, recent history shows such development applications are invariably a fait accompli irrespective of which political party holds office.
It’s only changing circumstances that catch government and developers out; for example, the vacant lots of Melanka, the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre (next door to KFC), and – for a time – Lizzie Milnes’s home in Bath Street which was an empty lot for several years until the Green Well office complex was built.
This was only after the NT Government guaranteed renting the new building (leaving vacant other office space across town).
The latest example is the demolition of the former Anzac Hill High School; given current circumstances, don’t hold our collective breath over anything being developed on this site for many years (if at all) and long after the current miserable excuse posing as a Northern Territory Government has been consigned to the rubbish dump of history.


Work on six storey accommodation complex to start in May
For several years I’ve pointed out the apparent correlation between privately funded proposals or construction of high rise developments above three storeys in Alice Springs and the onset of major economic downturns.
I did so in 2015 (see my two comments), noted it again in 2017 (see my early comment), and yet again last year.
I’ve also stated my observations a number of times on local ABC radio.
Given current circumstances it appears to me that Alice Springs remains as strong a barometer for economic turmoil as it has demonstrated on several occasions for nearly half a century.
However, confirmation of the go-ahead for a major six-storey development seems to herald a far worse situation unfolding around the world.
The ABC’s business editor, Ian Verrender, has posted a stark warning of a far more worrying development that has been masked by our pre-occupation with the coronavirus emergency and sharp decline of stock markets.
If this warning holds true, we don’t just face the prospect of an economic recession; rather it is an economic depression that now looms ahead of us.
It looks to me that we are confronted with an epochal turning point of history, the like of which hasn’t been experienced since the commencement of the Great Depression 90 years ago.


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Erwin Chlanda, Editor