New Normal recipe from the too hard basket

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The town has lived for decades with a glaring need for major improvements. Over the last quarter of a century our readers have pushed for them, pointed out the flagrant neglect by north of the Berrimah Line governments, as well as local government’s failure to be an assertive representative of the region.

 

The Alice Springs News researched some of these ideas, some dating back a couple of decades, and put them to our large readership for comment. Many of the 23,215 reader comments so far we’ve published since 2011 were articulate and meaningful responses.

 

Now the massively debt ridden Gunner Government is committing $50m to building an art centre without disclosing where the further $400m or so required for such a “national” project will come from. The project over nearly four years has divided and embittered the community and we still don’t know what the people whose art will be shown think about the plans.

 

That’s just one project on which the town has been sold short by the politicians, Territory and local.

 

Here are some of the outstanding issues, as we are settling into the post-COVID New Normal.

 

 

FLOOD MITIGATION

 

Let’s return the town’s greatest landmark and one of its most significant sacred sites, The Gap, to its former pristine glory.

 

Let’s redirect road and rail though a tunnel 100 metres or so to the west.

 

This will widen the river and consequently increase the flow rate of the Todd by about 35%.

 

In the event of a major flood, excess water can be channelled through the tunnel.

 

That is being done in Malaysia, according to Australia’s top tunnel builder, who seemed to be aware of this option for Alice Springs.

 

This would mean that traffic is interrupted for a few hours every 20 years or so.

 

It would save us building a dam upstream from the Telegraph Station, a proposal that caused huge racial tensions some 25 years ago.

 

We would solve a traffic problem and enhance a tourist attraction.

 

Meanwhile our bright sparks in government are contemplating building a flyover through The Gap.

 

 

LANDFILL

 

Rehabilitate the dump, start a new one elsewhere, do not extend the current one further into the national park to the west.

 

Leave the public access transfer facility where it is.

 

We generate a triple road train’s worth of rubbish a day. On the way back the truck can carry sand from the hole of the new dump (near Brewer Estate?) and bring it back to to cover the old one.

 

 

SEWERAGE

 

Replace the stinking treatment plant that wastes billions of litres of water a year, in the driest part of the driest continent, with a recycling facility.

 

Gain two square kilometres of land owned by the public and unencumbered by native title, between two picturesque mountain ranges.

 

Some of the gullies  on the southern flank of the range, the rubbish dump and part of the sewage ponds.

 

It is served by water, power, road, rail and a fibre-optic link to the world, five minutes from town, 10 from the airport.

 

An IT village, anybody? A university? Retirement village?

 

Or all of the above – in the land where the sun shines 300 days a year, which has zero pollution, the greatest star sky, and a million square kilometres of uncrowded plains, mountains and deserts. 

 

 

THE SOUTHERN FLANK OF THE MacDONNELL RANGES

 

Open up the dozen or so gullies, in the middle of our municipal area, running west from the current dump.

 

They rival King’s Canyon in their beauty.

 

Get to the top and have your breath taken away by the views, especially into the West MacDonnells. Give tourists a reason to stay an extra day or three.

 

 

CRIME

 

Social science tells us that police doesn’t stop crime, society does.

 

Cops here outnumber villains (mostly kids) three to one yet youth crime continues.

 

This is a neighbourhood issue. Some of our neighbours live in a town camp; there are 18 of them, many of them with abysmal conditions.

 

We need to talk to each-other, little by little, family to family, kid to kid.

 

Parents having a yarn at soccer made for a great Sunday mornings for me when my four kids grew up.

 

Let’s create a lot of these opportunities. The alternative is more fences, more dogs, more gated communities, more no-go areas at night, more hate. 

 

 

 

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Erwin Chlanda, Editor


6 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. Trevor Scroop
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    Charlie Carter, there will have to be a lot of work done at the railway yards if you want to put housing there.
    There would be so many chemicals in the soil that most of it would have to be taken away.

    View Comment
  2. Ray
    Posted May 15, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Bush Teacher, thank you for your comments.
    I cannot offer a solution but know from genuine experience that you are 100% correct.
    The young teachers come here every year to change the world.
    Some stay, but many return almost in tears after seeing what it is really like.
    Can’t see it changing any time soon, which is ironic as I felt the same way over 20 years ago.

    View Comment
  3. Bush Teacher
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    @ Charlie Carter: Your comments about getting experienced teachers in bush schools are well meaning but naive.
    Very few experienced teachers will move to bush schools in the Territory.
    Doesn’t matter what benefits you offer them and the benefits already on offer are pretty good.
    They won’t do it.
    And does a lot of experience in mainstream schools really translate into better outcomes for Aboriginal students in remote communities?
    Yirara College here in town, teaching remote Aboriginal kids, is staffed with mainstream teachers and they teach a mainstream curriculum.
    Its outcomes in producing literate, job ready students?
    Abysmal!

    View Comment
  4. Periodic Lock Down - New Normal
    Posted May 9, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    One thing is clear, when we all think it is back to normal Alice Springs will get a COVID 19 outbreak.
    This is inevitable as we have no vaccine and tourists possibly from overseas may return.
    Here is what will happen.
    We will be ordered to lockdown. Business will need to shut down as in the March and April shutdown.
    Once the Virus has been cleared which may take weeks we will then be able to return to usual.
    We better get used to this and government and banks be flexible in these situations.

    View Comment
  5. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted May 8, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Alice Springs in the middle of the centre of Australia is a land of opportunities.
    All those ideas / projects and more are quite feasible (let the Chinese come in and they will do it in no time!)
    The crime depends on some achievements bringing hope for the future. But to achieve we need leaders with vision, stamina and guts. Leaders capable to get out of the box they are in and not scared to rock the boat.

    View Comment
  6. Charlie Carter
    Posted May 8, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Erwin, your list does reflect a bit of a rural, south of The Gap focus. I would add a couple;
    Move the railway yards out to the industrial estate. Use the land for a retirement village medium density housing.
    Get serious about education in the bush, by using the best most experienced teachers, and providing them with the support they need.
    Good housing, well paid and housed Aboriginal teacher’s aides, and organised and funded community reference groups.

    View Comment

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