COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
The railway overpass outside Alice Springs and the Arlparra (Utopia) police station (pictured) have three things in common: They are useless (given far more pressing needs), are paid for by Canberra yet are touted by the Giles spin doctors as something which the NT Government is doing for the local economy.
Our readers, so far, have voted 10 to one against the overpass and there are two neutral comments. Some pointed out far more urgent projects that should be funded, obviously some that would boost tourism or provide ongoing employment.
One said if the crossing is dangerous – for which, in the absence of accidents, there is no evidence – then let’s add boom gates to the red lights already in place.
Utopia is not exactly a crime hotspot yet it will get a new police station, four one-bedroom visiting officers quarters and three four-bedroom houses.
As we have pointed out, the current dongas seem to be doing an adequate job, and some of the community’s residents are still living in humpies.
Especially galling is that small builders in Alice Springs, a dozen or more, cannot bid for the project because they cannot afford additional staff needed to comply with the Australian Government Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme.
These builders are good enough to build a house for you or me, but not a bush police station and police residences. So much for the local economy.
Their forced absence from the tender process no doubt drove up the cost, yes, paid for with your money. A local builder made that point , we reported it on June 9, and Chief Minister Adam Giles did nothing about it.
Lo and behold, the $8m job yesterday went to one of the region’s two big builders. This what the spin machine – in a media handout – had to say on behalf of Mr Giles:-
“An Alice Springs construction company has been chosen to build Arlparra’s brand new multi-million dollar Police Station.
“’I am pleased to announce Asbuild NT has won the $8 million Arlparra Police Station contract,’ Chief Minister Adam Giles said.
“Almost 100 contractors are expected to work on the project which is due for completion by the middle of next year. This includes 22 Indigenous staff and 12 apprentices.
“It’s another big stimulus to the Central Australian construction industry and is among a range of new government developments that are boosting the local economy.”
Robyn Lambley’s minder chimed in about the $24m overpass:-
“Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley said the investment was wonderful news to ensure the safety and productivity of Alice Springs residents.
“‘I welcome the news that the Federal Government is funding a rail overpass on the Stuart Highway in Alice Springs – which is the NT’s last remaining level crossing on the highway network,’ Mrs Lambley said.
“’The Country Liberals Government is committed to Developing Northern Australia, and it is great to see the Federal Government investing in this plan to create economic opportunities and growth.
“’It is also great news that local Territory company Ostojic [which in fact is Darwin based but has a branch in Alice Springs] has won the construction contract, providing economic benefits and jobs back into the community.”