COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
We thought they’d turned the corner: Useful one-on-one interviews with Ministers Anderson, Lambley and Chandler prompted us to comment: “Could it be that one of the sea changes being brought in by the Adam Giles government is direct access for reporters to ministers, as a matter of policy and not tainted by preferential treatment for some?”
But now it seems the practice of media dialogue via odious minders while the ministers stand behind the door, favoured by Labor and to a degree by the Country Liberals in their first few months, has been replaced by Hollywood stunts and cutting journos out of the loop if they point up government failings.
The Alice Springs News Online did the hard yards on the Triple O investigation: we broke the story about the agonising 46 minutes when tennis club manager Matt Roberts, his son and a young friend were under siege from some 20 youths armed with knives and clubs.
We reported that his two 000 calls had failed to get through to the police for an inexcusable length of time.
We interviewed the police commander for our region, Kate Vanderlaan, and she gave us gave a detailed account of what happened on the night, from her perspective, and how the process should work.
We spoke at length to Telstra, which takes and transfers the 000 calls in Perth, and outlined why the process is not working as it should.
The upshot that we revealed to the public was that the NT police had only six lines on which 000 calls can be put through and they need many more.
Telstra said they can have as many as they like. It was a no-brainer.
So it would have been a nice touch for new Chief Minister and Police Minister Adam Giles to invite the Alice Springs News Online to the hoopla yesterday at which he was announcing an expansion of the police call centre. He didn’t. He gave the story to the ABC.
The staging for the “news” event in Alice Springs, where Mr Giles made public that he would do exactly what the News had suggested, was impeccable: the young, bright, new Chief Minister surrounded by mounted plods in Robocop attire … all the King’s horses and all the King’s men … a beaming Police Commissioner, cops on bikes, a grateful Member Of The Public rushing up to the Leader and shaking him by the hand – hang on, that was one of Mr Giles’ minders, former radio shock jock Adrian Renzie!
Why would the Alice Springs News Online have been excluded from this circus?
Did Mr Giles not like that we pointed out the solution to a problem which, while in Opposition, he and is party had been bleating about for years, but had done nothing about it during seven months in government?
Is he just a tad touchy about criticism? Would that not be an Achilles’ heel for a polly? Worth keeping an eye on.
PHOTOS: Images from the ABC TV News last night.
Robocops, minder as extras for Giles' exclusive media event
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.