By ERWIN CHLANDA
The people of Alice Springs are starting to “arc up” over the failure of the CLP government to spend money on infrastructure in the town, says acting Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Gerry McCarthy (pictured).
Expecting that the CLP landslide on August 2012 would have milk and honey flowing in the streets, locals are now confronted with a “slash and burn policy and economic rationalist budgeting”.
CLP Minister for Central Australia, Matt Conlan, refused to be interviewed about these issues.
Mr McCarthy says when Labor was in power in the NT as well as in Canberra, infrastructure money flooded into the town – in crass contrast to the present when two conservative governments are in power.
He says as the Minister for Lands and Planning between 2008 and 2012, he copped a lot of criticism about lack of investment in the town.
Yet this was the period when the education “revolution” sparked extensive infrastructure expenditure.
The short term accommodation village at Blatherskite Park was built.
Alherlkeme Village on Percy Court, near St Mary’s – a residential complex where people are taught to look after dwellings, ahead of being allocated public housing – is a prime example of investment in the construction industry.
The Alice Springs Transformation Plan, focussed on the town camps and services to Aborigines, pumped $150m into town. The $8m aquatic centre was built with a Federal grant. The upgrading of the northern mall got $5m.
“The second stage of the mall was on the books but Adam Giles has not committed to it,” says Mr McCarthy.
“Here is a Chief Minister, in his home town, who has an opportunity to stimulate the construction sector, support the retail sector, in partnership with the Town Council, and it has been rejected. You have to question that leadership.
“In Opposition the CLP crowed about land release. Under Labor we saw land release at Larapinta, Stirling Hights, working with Lhere Artepe to develop Mt Johns, and then the set-up of Kilgariff.
“That was complemented by infill development,” says Mr McCarthy.
“As the previous Minister for Lands and Planning I always used to comment to the department that Alice was leading the pack in infill development.
“When we exited in August 2012 I left a budgeted figure of $3.5m to do the entry and a spine road into Kilgariff.
“We had done the headworks, the major road intersection, and the plan was to attract a developer for 140 lots.
“The Liberals had crowed for years and run me down and were very aggressive about the development of Kilgariff.
“Now we’re 18 months into their term and we have a Chief Minister, in his home town, who is talking about flogging blocks off the plan and the total is 33.”
Mr McCarthy says after consultation with initially “very hostile locals south of The Gap”, a master plan for 3000 lots in the next 20 years had been drawn up for Kilgariff: “I was really proud of that.
“We get turfed out, the Libs get in, the home town boy becomes the Chief Minister, and we’re still watching the weeds grow in Kilgariff.
“The new government has no vision and no leadership. There is no action.”
Meanwhile Mr Giles made a media release yesterday that is pure spin. It says “headworks have begun at Alice Springs’ newest suburb Kilgariff”. In fact the headworks – taking services to the site – were put in place by the former Labor Government.
It says “up to 80 affordable residential lots will soon be released to the local housing market once works are completed”. No schedule for this is given: How soon?
The release says “Alice Springs company, Ostojic Group, is coming on board to carry out Stage 1 of the development”. Stage 1 is just 33 blocks, as the release concedes. And according to earlier releases, the NT Government is paying for the work.
The Ostojic Group’s website gives the address of its head office not as Alice Springs, but as 115 Tivendale Road, Berrimah NT 0828.
Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley is quoted in the release, saying that “80 lots will be made available in two stages”. No details are given when Stage 2 will commence.
Mr Conlan, too, is getting a mention in Mr Giles’ release – but says nothing that hasn’t been known before: “Future development of Kilgariff beyond Stage 1 will include areas of land for community purposes, commercial development, and open spaces for the community to enjoy and call home.”
The CLP Givernment is clearly feeling under pressure in Alice Springs, as Mr McCarthy suggests.
By ERWIN CHLANDA