By KIERAN FINNANE
Responding to a call from Councillor Steve Brown, the Town Council last night voted to write to the Minister for Land Resource Management and request an extension of time in order to respond to the draft Water Allocation Plan for the town. Deadline for comment is currently April 29.
Cr Brown warned that the plan will have “an extremely limiting effect” on the town’s growth, contrary to the council’s strategic goals. He wanted council to call on the Minister to “set the plan aside”, but his colleagues preferred to come to their own conclusions, once having read the plan.
CEO Rex Mooney told councillors that he had received a visit from departmental staff during the day, who were following up on Cr Brown’s “comments in the media” – clearly a reference to the coverage in the Alice Springs News Online. Their view and, according to them, the view of the committee is that the plan will not cause stagnation, said Mr Mooney. He did not explain why not.
Cr Brown is council’s representative on the Water Advisory Committee, a position which receives Ministerial approval. Cr Eli Melky, while agreeing “largely” with Cr Brown’s comments about the plan, questioned him on whether there was a conflict of interest for him, as a minister-approved member of the committee, in going to the media with his concerns.
A member of the Water Advisory Committee, Rod Cramer, speaking from the public gallery at the start of the meeting, warned council that a positive response to Cr Brown’s call would be based on “considerable ignorance”, there having been only one meeting of the committee since the election. He said it would be more worthwhile for council to encourage the government to change its mind on the exemption of the mining industry from water usage controls.
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By KIERAN FINNANE