Above: The community parade Bangtail Muster is always held on May Day. Photo from our archives.
KIERAN FINNANE reports
Alice Springs could not afford to lose the May Day, Queen’s Birthday and Picnic Day public holidays: the community events that are held on all three are essential to the town’s economic and cultural life. So say the Town Councillors who last night voted to write to the NT Government to express this view.
This follows the launch of the government’s campaign to make Territory Day, July 1, a public holiday. The government is canvassing community views on a website, asking which day people would be prepared to sacrifice in exchange for the July 1 holiday. There is also an option in the survey to oppose relinquishing any day.
Councillor Chansey Paech drew the matter to council’s attention. He and his colleagues, including Mayor Damien Ryan, were unanimous in their opposition to losing any of the existing holidays: May Day is the occasion of the community parade, the Bangtail Muster, as well as the Alice Springs Cup Carnival; the Finke Desert Race is held on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend; and Picnic Day is the time for the Hart’s Range Races. Cr Paech also mentioned the Darwin Cup Carnival that falls on Picnic Day but in the region a number of communities, including Yuendumu, have gatherings around sports events that weekend.
Cr Paech also said that he had spoken to a number of business-owners who said that July 1, at the start of the financial year, is a very busy time for them and they would find a holiday on that date problematic. Cr Brendan Heenan pointed out the proximity of July 1 to Alice Springs Show weekend, which always starts with a local public holiday on the Friday.
Melky wants a motion of confidence in the mayor
In other council news Cr Ei Melky spoke in support of Mayor Ryan’s dedication to his job. Cr Melky alluded vaguely to media reports raising the question of conflict of interest for the mayor in relation to his membership on multiple government boards – presumably referring to the recent articles in the Alice Springs News Online, here and here.
Cr Melky said Mayor Ryan’s membership on those boards is a “matter for him” and suggested that council may like to pass a motion of confidence in the mayor. He commended the mayor for his commitment of time, hard work and his performance of civic and ceremonial functions, which he does “very, very well”. He suggested that the questions raised in the articles reflected on all elected members and asserted that they are managing their business well.
Mayor Ryan is interstate on annual leave but was attending the meeting by phone. Cr Jade Kudrenko, chairing the meeting, suggested that the discussion and any motion should be left until the mayor was present in the chamber. CEO Rex Mooney agreed, so the matter was deferred to the Ordinary Meeting at the end of the month.