Desert Parasite?


Desert Knowledge indeed! It appears that despite all the early promise the only expertise DK has mastered is in the art of filling out grant application forms and the gross over production of supporting propaganda.
It was launched amongst much fanfare, it promised to establish an educational and research organisation, one that offered a marketable body of knowledge about desert living.
That would bring students from all over the world, we were informed. Eventually accommodation would be required for very large numbers of students, they said. This, of course had the Centralian community envisioning research into useful, marketable knowledge of things like dry land agriculture, irrigation systems, water recycling, solar power systems, useful information about the effects of fracking and mining, perhaps even new frontiers in science of the universe and weather.
What has been the actual outcome?  DK appears to have completely lost its vision, and set about maintaining its survival by thrusting itself deep into the welfare funding stream! It appears DK has become just another parasite living off welfare, using well intentioned tax payer dollars to little or no effect.
Worse than that, it seems – according to the article on DK in this publication – that they have placed themselves in direct competition with a desperately struggling local building industry under the guise of “training”! In the process they were putting legitimate local companies out of work and lessening community gain for their dollar.
So I ask this question directly of our Chief Minister: What the hell are we doing using good tax payer dollars to support an organisation like DK in direct opposition to private enterprise? Adam often remarks on the existence of a “welfare mentality”. Isn’t this a perfect example?  Why don’t we all just go on the dole and be done with it?
Make no mistake about it, DK is not assisting Aboriginal people with the housing upgrades. The funding stream intended to assist Aboriginal people is, it appears, being used to assist the pointless continuance of life of another non contributing government bureaucracy.
I call on the Chief Minister to deliver Desert Knowledge the following message along with a time frame with in which to achieve it: “Change your Game DK! Reinvent yourself into a revenue generating, useful, community advancing, world leading, free market, research and educational facility as was the early vision! Or we will shut your doors!  Because right now you are just another dead weight parasitic NGO sucking the very life out of the Territory.”


  1. Spot on Steve. A Bit of history. In the mid 80s Infratril (ANZ based company) acquired the airport and associated land. They called for ideas on what to do with the land.
    I wrote a response to the effect that it could be developed as a high tech research facility into alternative (solar) energy, with Government leasing out infrastructure to research institutions in return for licencing agreements on the new technology.
    At the time there were several German universities looking for places with higher sunlight intensities. I received a reply from to the effect that submission went to Sinclair Knight civil engineering in Darwin via Infratril and from there I understand, to the NT Government.
    Shortly after DK emerged, but not in the form that I thought would be good. The German university (Frauhoffer at Friedberg) was subsequently enticed to California to do their research as I understand it. It could have been here, and the shallow development / strategic planning shown then continues to is day with Kilgarrif.
    Only the Government has changed. It is also interesting to note that the technology on public display via CAT as being appropriate – chip water heaters, toilets etc – came straight from the UNESCO handbook of the early 70s and I was involved in setting them up in rural Fiji in 1972.
    I also have a photo of a house in Kintore with a chip water heater installed at a house with a solar hot water system! The solar technology on display there is also well and truly out of date. DK became a refuge for people involved in the Labor party, and social engineering.
    Another golden opportunity lost to promote investment and jobs here.

  2. @ Trevor. Yes you are right, it seems almost from the start those in charge saw chasing the welfare dollar as an all too easy option, and pretty soon gave way to that temptation!
    What a shame that there wasn’t enough oversight to keep them on the straight and narrow, enough common sense to go out into the market place and hire expertise from private industry as opposed to filling the place up with lefty bureaucrats, who obviously didn’t even know where to start!
    I hope Desert Knowledge can be saved and steered very firmly in the right direction because there is no reason at all that it couldn’t be enormously successful in developing an expertise and knowledge base that both assist and enhances local industry while at the same time being of such commercial interest to the rest of the world, that it really does attract students.
    A little hint for Government though, when setting up private enterprise or for that matter anything entrepreneurial don’t hire public servants to do it! Or all you’ll end up with is err … Desert Knowledge!


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