Bess Price washes her hands of Whitegate


The Minister for Community Services, Bess Price, this afternoon denied having any responsibility for the embattled Whitegate camp.
In a statement today she says its residents continue to be hurt by “mistruths and poor advice from people with a political agenda” without specifying who these people are nor what they are saying.
She says the town’s native title organisation, Lhere Artepe (LA), is responsible, not the NT Government.
“Whitegate camp is on vacant crown land and is not recognised or funded by the government as a town camp,” she says.
The Alice Springs News Online was unable to contact LA chairman Noel Kruger but we have left a message on his mobile. There has been internal strife in LA for several years, most recently about a camp  at 16 Mile on the North Stuart Highway.
“I have met with residents and assured them this Government has no intention of forcibly removing them from Whitegate camp or removing existing infrastructure,” says Ms Price.
“At a meeting on January 20 I made the offer of alternate housing, which was declined by the occupants. That is their prerogative.
“The water connection was not constructed, authorised by or the responsibility of government. The provision of services to Whitegate has always been the responsibility of Lhere Artepe.
“The connection was simply a piece of plastic pipe that someone had connected to a tap in the Ilpeye Ilpeye town camp water supply.
“LA was advised on July 8 they would need to make arrangements to supply water in preparation for the disconnection on August 11 as part of the upgrade to Ilpeye Ilpeye town camp.
“The arrangement for the supply of water to Whitegate would not have been to subdivision standard and has no back flow prevention which can pose a serious health risk.”


  1. Have a heart Dave Price, Bess can’t blindly run with every CLP policy and retain credibility with Aboriginal voters.

  2. Bess Price’s ignorance and hypocrisy is appalling! How on earth is Lhere Artepe responsible, it is a native title organisation that does not receive funding for service provision.
    The NTG did fund Tangentyere to provide some services to Whitegate but Bess and her CLP government stopped this.
    Tangentyere has been trucking water in I understand at their own cost but don’t know how long they can afford to continue.
    You are happy enough to tell people overseas and on the national media how much you care about the welfare of Aboriginal women and children.
    But you don’t care about the welfare of women and children at Whitegate, who live a couple of hundred meters from you. If you were honestly concerned about the living conditions of kids you’d turn the tap back on at Whitegate.

  3. Perhaps Bess Price or someone could enlighten me? As I understand it, Lhere Artepe is the body set up to work on Native Title within Mparntwe, Undoolya and Irlpme. Whitegate does not come under Native Title so how is it Lhere Artepe’s responsibility?

  4. I think I can recall the Minister expressing concern about people drinking alcohol at Whitegate. It seems that she actually doesn’t want them to drink anything at all. Water is essential for life. Is this an attempt at genocide.

  5. Have a brain, Observer.
    I am not the Minister, my wife is, but of course a racist misogynist like yourself, sorry, racist misogynists like yourselves, can’t accept that an Aboriginal woman can think and act on her own behalf, can you?
    I will not enter into a pointless conversation with a coward hiding behind anonymity.
    You should get Delia to give you better quality advice and tell us who you and your little gang really are, then maybe we can have a conversation.

  6. Dave. An Aboriginal Minister would feel compelled to buck the party line on an issue as important as supplying water to her own people living in desperate circumstances at Whitegate.
    Yes, they could move but an Aboriginal minister would understand their deep attachment to country and the identity Whitegate provides them in an uncertain world.
    The people of Whitegate are not asking for new houses or million dollar grants, they just want the water turned back on.
    For Bess to toe the party line on this issue makes it clear she is not thinking and acting for herself.
    I would hope not anyway because to argue that an Aboriginal woman would do this to her own people is unthinkable.

  7. White Gate Camp, aka Irrkerlantye, at Lot 8106 of Alice Springs, appears to be vacant crown land.
    Has it been claimed, with such claims recognized, or rejected, under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT), the Native Title Act or any other acts of Commonwealth or NT acts?
    IF Lhere Artepe is NOT responsible, who is claiming responsibility, and accountability, for what happens there without a lease, or other formal ownership?

  8. Far out, the Price is Right has a little trouble with reading comprehension. Dave was answering to a comment directed at him alone, not his wife.
    Nice try to turn the tables, but a miserable failure nonetheless.
    Well done though, it’s not that easy to make yourself look as silly as you have in just a couple of sentences. Kudos.

  9. Paul Parker (Posted September 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm): Whitegate camp used to be known as Irrkerlantye (i.e kite-hawk) or Motorbike camp. Its original incorporated body, the Irrkerlantye-Akerte Aboriginal Corporation, lodged a series of lease applications on behalf of the residents in the 1980s and early nineties.
    The area has never been claimed under the Land Rights Act. The Fraser Government removed provision for such claims to be made within town boundaries in its revision of Whitlam’s legislation in 1976, despite the recommendations for such claims to be included in the legislation by both the Royal Commissioner on Land Rights, Justice Woodward, and Whitlam’s Interim Land Commissioner, Judge Ward, in their recommendations.
    Tangentyere Council’s revised constitution, registered in 1990 I think, included provision for representation of Irrkerlantye delegates on the Tangentyere Executive Committee (as it did for representatives from all other incorporated town camps at the time).
    Following the enactment of the Paul Keating Government’s Native Title legislation in 1993, the Lhere Artipe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC) lodged a successful Native Title claim over all vacant crown land within the Alice Springs town boundary. LAAC’s leadership included residents of the Irrkerlantye / Whitegate camp. The matriarch of the Irrkerlantye group, Myra Hayes, was listed as the main named claimant.
    Thus the area is included in the land over which LAAC holds native title. However, due to the weakness of the Native Title legislation, this does not equate to complete ownership or control of the land.
    LAAC thus holds an “interest” in this land, but is not able to “grant” title to the land to its members, even if they are amongst the most eminent apparent “owners” in the traditional sense.
    Control over disposal or use of the land remains predominantly in the power of the NT government, in consultation or negotiation with LAAC.
    Until the NTG and LAAC sort this matter out, the Whitegate group will remain in a limbo in relation to their desire to achieve title to some of their land in this area under the mainstream legal system.
    The issue of whether anybody will agree to restore a water supply to the residents in their present camp is a separate, but now obviously related, matter.

  10. @2 Haroldalbatross: My comment you refer to was directed at both Dave and Minister Bess Price as I see no evidence that Bess does anything independent of her husband, even when it comes to depriving a little group of life battered people at Whitegate a tap that flows water.
    Dave’s response is alarming. So quick to play the race card and lash out with the misogynist accusation.
    I’m a coward hiding behind anonymity?
    I would imagine that Dave’s ugly responses have single handedly driven many posters to anonymity.
    And what is all this about gangs and getting advice from Delia?
    The man seems convinced that anyone objecting to turning the water off at Whitegate can’t possibly be genuine and must be politically motivated.
    There is a lack of empathy there that is truly staggering.

  11. Thank you Bob Durnan for such a succinct explanation of the history that is involved with the Whitegate land. It is a pity that the Minister involved appears to not have the same knowledge.

  12. Hey Harry, I’ll send you a big white towel to wipe that egg off your face. “Far out” went out with Coronation Street … it’s now 2014 … yes, really!

  13. IMHO:
    Lhere Artipe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC) should lodge application for an interim lease over Lot 8106.
    Such lease application needs LAAC corporate commitment to finance, undertake and complete required land development within an allowed time for development, same as any other developer.
    Assume LAAC provides required reticulated water, power, sewerage and roads to public standards within allowed time as responsible landowners and developers, the Native Title Act claims should then be terminated, with the land converted to standard Torrens freehold.
    From then all the standard freehold landowner costs, like town rates and charges, and tenancy lease requirements should apply.

  14. Yes Melanie and I doubt that Dave is paying his share of the fabulous dinner at the poolside of the Grand Margherita Hotel they are pictured at, while the people at Whitegate carry buckets of water and hope that their tank gets refilled before it runs out.
    Referring to the picture again it appears that Bess is seated next to the other Indigenous representative (from Sarawak) as the privileged group discuss the need to educate the natives for the good of the state.

  15. The Observer is certainly a misogynist of the highest order. Bess Price has already given a sound explanation on this matter yet you now deem it puppetry of the CLP.
    Bess Price is an independent and very capable woman and I dare say the CLP bode well by her counsel on many things.
    Bess is much respected in this community but because she represents a particular side of the political fence you condemn her in every way without logic or facts.
    So when David Price calls you out for what you disgracefully are, wear it!

  16. Margaret, you say that Bess Price has already given a sound explanation for cutting the water off to the Whitegate residents.
    I can’t imagine what a sound explanation for depriving a people access to water could be and Bess has not provided one that convinces me.
    Bess says: “The water connection was not constructed, authorised by or the responsibility of government.” Arguable, but even if true – the provision of water is so basic to health and welfare that this is not a reason to cut it off.
    “The connection was simply a piece of plastic pipe that someone had connected to a tap in the Ilpeye Ilpeye town camp water supply.” ditto
    “LA was advised on July 8 they would need to make arrangements to supply water in preparation for the disconnection on August 11 as part of the upgrade to Ilpeye Ilpeye town camp.” Giving notice of doing the unthinkable does not justify it.
    “The arrangement for the supply of water to Whitegate would not have been to subdivision standard and has no back flow prevention which can pose a serious health risk.” The water has been cut off for health reasons? Bess can’t be serious.
    And Margaret, calling people names and labelling them does not make the plight of the Whitegate people disappear.


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