Friday, June 21, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 26What a week!

What a week!

Hi. Welcome to a new column. From next week we’ll post it on Saturdays. It’s comment and opinion, not reporting. It’s what goes through my mind digesting the week’s events over a cuppa on Saturday morning or a whiskey in the arvo.
It’s as much a reflection about the results of our reporting work as it is about the valuable contributions from you, the reader. Use the comment box below to let me (pictured) know what you think. ERWIN CHLANDA.
• • •
The petrol industry in Alice Springs got a hammering for putting a mark-up on their sales five times greater than the national average. The AANT and former Deputy Mayor Murray Stewart spoke out and supported their argument with compelling figures. We asked six petrol sellers to respond. None of them did. The motorist is getting the middle finger pointing skywards. Amazing. To the town’s Big Three lobbies – the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Central Australia and the Town Council: Hello, anybody out there?
• • •
The Briscoe inquest is shaking up the community. Apart from expressing sincere sadness over the death of a young man, many voices are saying to the drunks: Stop blaming everybody except yourself.
The Licensing Commission is in the firing line. It should not get the task of conducting an urgent review of grog abuse measures, over which it presides, says the Police Association. We understand Police Commissioner John McRoberts asked the commission to delay bottle shop opening from 2pm to 4pm and was told no way – they are under pressure to bring it forward to 10am. Commissioner McRoberts confirmed having “met with the Liquor Licensing Commissioner during a recent visit to Alice Springs where a general discussion was held. That conversation was private.”
• • •
Why do some governments not govern?
The Federal Parliament doesn’t know what to do about asylum seekers so they hire consultants.
Our Town Council wants to introduce measures that are working very well in Port Augusta so they hire a consultant. Why?
Thousands of words have already been written and spoken on the subject (mostly in the Alice News). Aldermen had previously visited the gulf city. A candidate in the very recent elections, John Reid (see his comment), a former resident of Port Augusta, is full bottle on what’s going on there. Did anyone ask him for his advice, which is likely to have been for free?
Nope. We spent $13,280 of rate payers’ money on a consultant who came up with very little that we didn’t know already and seemed intent to pour cold water on the idea. There’s an old adage: Don’t appoint a consultant unless you know what he’s going to say. Is that what’s at play here? Is this a roundabout way of killing off an idea that seems to have huge merit?
• • •
The Alice News had a national scoop with the Federal enquiry into Congress, bringing to light some immensely disturbing questions about the spending on taxpayers’ money, namely around $40m a year, by an organisation run by people who think they’re accountable to no-one, least of all to their own members. Chairperson Helen Kantawarra has put a lid on release of information that people who are funding her outfit have every right to know, namely the taxpayers. The events disclosed by us occurred over some years, and on the watch of the Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, and the Minister for Central Australia (or is it Football?) Karl Hampton.


  1. Erwin,
    Good idea for a column!
    One problem with those who are saying to the alcoholics, “stop blaming everyone but yourself”, is that it’s not getting through. You can’t talk to a needle or a bottle, but consider these facts from the Age (1/7/12) and by the way, welcome to Happy Hour!
    As reported over the weekend, the Victorian Auditor-General found that liquor licences in Victoria have more than doubled since 1998 to 19,000 (same thing in Alice over the past forty years). Alcohol-related harm costs Victorian taxpayers $4.3billion per year (more taxes anyone?) Between 2000-01 and 2009-10, alcohol-related emergency room presentations more than tripled, hospitalisations rose by 87% and alcohol-related domestic violence doubled (Warren Snowdon said something like that about the NT earlier this year, but where is his voice in all this – won’t even engage with the AS News – pathetic for a public official).
    The Victorian Department of Justice spent $67m on alcohol harm-reduction campaigns in the past four years. These efforts were “hamstrung by the powerful alcohol industry.” Does anyone remember the campaigning against the tobacco industry in the late 1970s-80s in which prices rose considerably?
    Why not a floor price for alcohol? The Victorians are among the growing list of those considering it or implementing it now, while we in the NT with a staggering pathology equivocate.
    The Age concluded that Australia has a “binge drinking culture which is out of control”, requiring “strong moral leadership and elctorally unpopular decisions by Government”.
    So to those who blame the drunks, I say let’s get our own house in order so that we have a society that is not dictated to by the alcohol industry.

  2. Is the vehicle in the picture above actually airside at Alice Springs Airport or has it been photoshopped in?
    Hi Rob, it’s airside. I have a pilot’s license and had permission to drive alongside the aircraft to make its loading easier. Cheers, Erwin.

  3. Erwin, governments hire consultants often as delaying strategies like setting up a committee. It has the appearance of something being done, but puts off the need to actually do something until later when hopefully, the voters have cooled down or moved onto the next crisis. Regrettably, governments also have little faith in their staff (whom they hired as being the best people for the job) and hire consultants to do what the staff most likely could have done better. However, those of us who consult have to make a buck too, so keep on hiring.

  4. If a grant funded organisation like Congress has run into trouble, then there’s a good bet that the public sector agencies managing the grant have failed to pick up on the problems of the fund recipient. Fund recipients provide periodic financial returns that are usually analysed and vetted before the next quarter of funding is released. ATSIC/ATSIS had a schedule for major reviews of funded organisations, the frequency of which was determined by degree of assessed risk. If someone in Congress has done the wrong thing, there should perhaps be some bum kicking in the funding agencies also. None of these disasters occur in isolation.


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