By ERWIN CHLANDA
Restraints in the Territory Budget are possibly necessary, but those infrastructure projects that are included should proceed immediately to aid the ailing economy of Alice Springs.
That is the view of the local Chamber of Commerce. CEO Kay Eade (pictured below) says money for headworks for further land development is welcome: “Before it was always a knee-jerk reaction. We always spent money on it after we needed it, when it came to crunch time, and that’s what raised the cost of living here.”
She says people are showing interest “off the plan” for land in the Kilgariff subdivision under construction now.
Money for the new supreme courts and the police station should come “sooner rather than later. The building industry is suffering badly. I hope local building companies still have the capability of going for these big tenders.
“They had to let a lot of people go. At the moment it’s very dismal.”
Turning the Alice hospital into a training hospital would respond to demand from young doctors who “come here for experience.
“We do have diseases here, with the indigenous population, and being in a desert environment, that are not common on the east coast.
“We can aspire to being the number one desert hospital,” says Ms Eade. “For the size of our population we do have a very good hospital.”
Taking the $600,000 cap off the first home owners scheme is a good idea, she says, but she is concerned about the abolition of grants for buyers of established homes.
“Young people just starting out in life usually choose something that’s established and a little bit older because it’s cheaper to get into the market.
“We need to encourage young people to stay here rather than go to where there’s cheaper housing.”
Ms Eade says unlike in Darwin, available land in the regions is scarce.
The allocations, although small, for road building are a step in the right direction, including work on the Plenty River and Docker River highways which are part of the Outback Way east-west link, set to be a major tourist attraction.
Better roads will also encourage investment in mining and resource exploration.
A budget item for a team to look into cutting red tape and bureaucratic obstacles is “much needed, I think, to make things much smoother for people to invest in the region, especially the resource industry,” says Ms Eade.
Meanwhile Jaclyn Thorne of Tourism Central Australia says the $8m boost to almost $45m of the Tourism NT budget is “positive news [indicating] that the regions will continue to receive strong support as well”. She says Tourism CA is “in the midst of funding negotiations with Tourism NT”.
By ERWIN CHLANDA