Government transparency? Don’t ask.

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Gunner Government spin is most insidious when it makes out to be honest and transparent while being anything but.

 

Caravanners at Blatherskite Park during the Ulysses motorcyclists’ rally in 2014.

 

Take the revived controversy over cheap caravan sites at the government-owned Blatherskite Park show grounds, and the alleged violation of the “competitive neutrality” principle which requires that a government businesses must not have a competitive advantage because of public ownership.

 

The allegation was raised by Brendan Heenan, owner of the multi award wining MacDonnell Range Holiday Park, and we put it to Planning Minister Eva Lawler (pictured).

 

However, that elected politician, who signed off on the decision, refused to comment and instead passed the ball to the unelected but government appointed Development Consent Authority (DCA).

 

Trouble is, the DCA does not comment.

 

We found this out when we sought comment from DCA chair Suzanne Philip on the occasion of the DCA stopped a company using rural residential land in the Ilparpa subdivision.

 

She said no, go and talk to the government’s media people. We are a quasi judicial instrumentality and we don’t explain our decisions.

 

After Ms Philip’s appointment to this key position, which had been the subject of many planning scandals,  I asked the Minister’s minder to arrange an interview. She replied: “There will be no phone call organised with Ms Philip.”

 

The current conflict is not in the slightest bit helped by the release of the DCA’s Blatherskite decision. It has nothing to say about the issues raised by Mr Heenan and clearly shared by other private caravan park owners around town.

 

The decision says it is based on “cumulative consideration” of Section 42 of the Planning Act, which refers to Section 51, which in turn has nothing to do with the issues raised.

 

The decision says consideration was given to “the following (but not the only) factors” – what other factors is not stated.

 

The factors that are stated deal with zoning, proper management, service authority requirements, and the decision asserts that “submitters concerns and service authority requirements can be appropriately addressed and the caravan park use can be operated without significant adverse amenity impacts”.

 

Which submitters?

 

That’s it. Transparency is one of the many fantasies of a government that pledged to bring order into the mess that for decades has passed for planning and land management in the NT.

 

 

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Chris Newman
    Posted July 5, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    This has gone on for many years. They were not even paying GST at some times. No proper receipts were issued so not all the money could be accounted for.
    The government should not allow it to continue. We have already lost one caravan park in Alice and we don’t want to lose anymore.
    It would be interesting to know who is paying the power, water bills and rates as this is a huge expense to the other parks.
    The other parks can’t provide for this expense if they don’t charge enough for a site.
    Blatherskite should not be subsidised to provide a cheaper service.

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  2. Oldmate44
    Posted July 2, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Alice Springs needs Blatherskite Park for the Nomads that don’t require the expensive facilities of the caravan parks.
    I don’t require power, mains water, swimming pools, camp kitchens, jumping pillows, and to be parked on top of the van next door.
    I have a 27ft caravan with two dogs and literally can’t fit into the sites now offered by the pet friendly parks.
    There are thousands like me who if not offered basic facilities that are value for money just won’t stop in Alice Springs and businesses other than the greedy Heehnans and Co will suffer.
    Look at Rockhampton Queensland.
    They stopped their show ground camping and their “48hr free camp” and travellers just bypassed the city. The council are the people, they are not individuals, they should be making decisions for all the town businesses but just the “squeaky wheel” wingers.

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  3. Blatherskite Park Trustees
    Posted July 1, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Statement from the Board of Trustees in response your article: Blatherskite Park was in overflow at the time of your article as all caravan parks in and around Alice Springs were full.
    Blatherskite Park were advised by a representative of one of Alice Springs caravan parks on May 25 that caravan parks were full and they were redirecting campers to the park.
    Blatherskite Park have been inundated by 100s of calls from tourists unable to secure camping in Alice Springs since the Finke Desert Race weekend.
    Travellers are advising Blatherskite Park staff that the local caravan parks are not advising them of an alternative to camp at the show ground.
    Tourism Central Australia have been directing travellers to Blatherskite Park as they are aware there are no spaces available in caravan parks.
    Blatherskite Park management call daily the two caravan parks that take pets and remain updated with the availability of powered sites.
    Travellers are voicing their frustration and threatening bypassing Alice Springs. This is due to the finite number of powered sites in caravan parks. People especially effected are those travelling with animals.
    Blatherskite Park will be closed to general campers from 30/6/2019 – 9/6/2019 due to the Alice Springs Show.
    The show stall holders, traders and Showman’s Guild are currently camping at Blatherskite Park. They arrived at Blatherskite Park on June 24 as Mt Isa Show finished on June 22.
    Blatherskite Park has provided camping for travellers at peak periods for decades and will continue to do so to meet this ever-growing need in Alice Springs.

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