The Keith Lawrie Flats came under pressure for demolition in …

Comment on Keith Lawrie Flats – people have had enough! by Alex Nelson.

The Keith Lawrie Flats came under pressure for demolition in February 2004 from neighbouring residents and then Member for Araluen, Jodeen Carney. This story was part of a feature report about the problem of petrol sniffing in Alice Springs.
The Minister for Housing, John Ah Kit, stated the NT Government had no intention of demolishing existing public housing stock, and in March 2004 announced this block of flats would be a part of the government’s multi-million dollar “urban renewal program.”
I was suspicious of the initial report about the Keith Lawrie Flats as it was only three years after the former CLP government had announced its intention to demolish the Cawood Court complex and replace it with house blocks and a retirement village.
The effect of this approach was obvious – it would reduce the quantity of available housing in town at a time of existing short supply and so contribute to driving up the price of real estate.
The CLP lost office before this could happen, and in late 2001 the new Labor government (specifically Housing Minister Kon Vatskalis) reversed that decision in favour of the CLP’s former practice of selling rundown public housing to developers to refurbish the flats and release them for private ownership. Consequently the Cawood Court complex became the City Edge Apartments and sold rapidly when released for sale.
I had a few letters published in the Centralian Advocate (and got some haughty responses) early in 2004 about this matter. The Keith Lawrie Flats were later shut down for quite some time. I took photos of the abandoned complex about January 2006, by that time over-run with weeds.
Later that year the units were reduced in number from 32 to 22, were extensively renovated and (as I recall) were to be closely monitored and controlled to avoid the problems that afflicted them previously.
The stories I have on file about this don’t reveal the public expense involved but sadly it’s apparently entirely wasted as this complex has reportedly reverted to slum conditions again, effectively within a decade.
At least some of the blame for this must accrue to the previous Country Liberals government because the flats surely can’t have declined so precipitously in just the one year of the current government.
In 2004 I suggested the Keith Lawrie Flats should be sold, renovated and released for private sale. The Housing Minister, John Ah Kit, wrote to me saying the government was reluctant to do this because of the adverse impact on waiting times for public housing.
Given the return of the anti-social behaviour at the Keith Lawrie Flats and other complexes, maybe the NT Government just has to bite the bullet on this one and offload these properties for sale.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Fire threat: Where are the big water bombers?
It seems increasingly unlikely we’re in for a horrendous bushfire summer precisely because of the current drought continuing, following on now from two earlier years of low rainfall.
Recently I compared this year’s rainfall figures from the Alice Springs Airport to 2009, the driest on record.
For the first seven months (January to July) both years were virtually identical with totals of 47.2mm (2009) and 46.8mm (2019) respectively.
However, in August 2009 the airport recorded 13mm while this year it was zero. If there is no rain recorded this month we will be almost 20mm less than at the same time in 2009.
The total rainfall for 2009 was 76.8mm which was 5.3mm less than the previous lowest record of 82.1mm recorded in 1965, some 44 years earlier.
A decade after 2009, we are on track not just to beat the new record but to smash it; and long term forecasts are not encouraging for avoiding it.


Police gets street parking, cops’ private cars in compound
On the odd occasion I walk past the police station vehicle compound in Bath Street, I recognise some private vehicles that previously were parked in Parsons Street outside the old police station.
I used to see these regularly after finishing work at Woolies and walking home that way late each evening.


Authorities underrated risk to Pine Gap, Alice of a nuclear strike
Just read a comment piece by ABC North American correspondent James Glenday, who notes: “According to the Gun Violence Archive, 9,418 Americans have died from bullet wounds so far this year. 18,785 have been injured.”
To put that in perspective, more people have been killed and injured in the USA by gun violence up to the end of August than there are residents of Alice Springs.
That’s just this year. We think we’ve got problems?


Authorities underrated risk to Pine Gap, Alice of a nuclear strike
I note this book becomes available on September 3, which this year marks the 80th anniversary of the declaration of war by Britain and France (which included Australia) on Nazi Germany following the invasion of Poland that started two days earlier.
In that same month the German Army Weapons Bureau commenced work, and one of its first projects was research into creating a nuclear bomb. German physicist Werner Heisenberg delivered an initial paper on building a workable atom bomb before the year was over.
Albert Einstein, whose equation of E=mc2 lies at the core of nuclear physics, had already warned the US of this research – as did British intelligence – but the warnings were largely ignored until 1941, and the Manhattan Project began shortly after Japan’s attack against Pearl Harbour forced America into the war.
The first nuclear arms race was actually between America and Nazi Germany; the first bombs were intended for Europe but the war ended there before they were ready so ended up being used on Japan.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had embarked on its own nuclear weapons research program, which was significantly aided by information obtained by spies from the Manhattan Project – and thus was born the arms race of the Cold War.


Aboriginal flag to fly year round on Anzac Hill
I wonder why everyone seems to insist this issue began 20 years ago? As I pointed out in my article last year (https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2018/03/25/in-a-flap-over-flags-a-possible-compromise/) the original request for flying the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill was first made in 1989 which by my mathematics is 30 years ago.
It’s also forgotten that the two large flag poles erected in 1989 replaced four smaller ones. These were used to fly the national flag (which flew on the east side of the monument) and the individual armed services flags which overlooked the town. These flags were only flown on Anzac Day and (I think) Remembrance Day but for the remainder of the year there were none.
This issue had its genesis from the protracted political and ideological disputes between the NT Government and the major land councils that dominated Territory politics during the 1980s.


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