Congratulations to Ken Vowles (pictured), NT Shadow Minister for Indigenous Policy, the latest winner of the Mushroom Award sponsored by the Alice Springs News Online.
He was picked for his outstanding effort via a press release to heap praise on the Aboriginal land councils, while steadfastly refusing to respond meaningfully to our questions.
This is what we asked Mr Vowles: “You say in your release: Land Councils have in fact provided the certainty and stability to facilitate business engagement and economic opportunities for Indigenous Territorians.
“In the region of the Central Land Council in the past 40 years, would you please point me to the significant and sustained economic opportunities developed by the land council?
“By that I mean long-term employment and wealth creation for the CLC’s constituents.”
Mr Vowles did not point us to any specific examples. You can find extracts of our email thread here.
To Gail Rosswhite and Jeff Norton (media officer) at the NT Land Development Corporation who provided a string of answers and numbers in well under 24 hours for yesterday’s lead story on the new Kilgariff suburb.
To Joanne Boustead, Chief Information Officer, Department of Treasury and Finance for information about her department’s arrangements with the Alice Springs Convention Centre.
Questions in the too hard baskets:
Chief Minister, October 30: What is the cost-benefit for the public of the just announced Red Centre NATS (based on the SummerNATS in Canberra, pictured)?
What support will he give the proposal for a national indigenous culture centre being created in Alice Springs?
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Department of Health, October 25: We asked for information about the impact of methamphetamine (particularly the drug Ice) on Alice Springs, for example of what happens to people using it (not including names, of course), how wide-spread the drug is in Alice Springs, age and racial groupings. Other initial research produced the following answers:-
• Holyoake isn’t focussed on Ice.
• DASA (Drug and Alcohol Services Association) has little to do with Ice – less than two cases a month.
• Yet several alleged offenders are before the courts.
• Conversations with addicts’ families suggest Ice is wreaking mayhem on parts of our community.
No interviews were offered but we received this written statement from the department – more than a week after our first enquiry: “Ice and other amphetamine like substances (ALS) are a known problem in the NT, but the health and social impact is very small compared to problems associated with tobacco, alcohol and cannabis.
“Health services in the NT, including specialised alcohol and other drug services, are well positioned to offer comprehensive and specialised care to users of ice and other ALS who seek help.
“Taking note of reports from other states it is important to keep the community informed of the hazards associated with illicit drug use, and the new and emerging drugs being peddled in the NT.
“This will include an education campaign for remote community residents to make people aware of the dangers of amphetamine-like substances, how to recognise when a person is having problems, and providing advice on how to get help.”
You, the reader, might be able to help us advance this life-and-death debate!
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Tony Mayell, CEO of Tourism NT, October 28, 2014: Will you be supporting the initiative to establish a national indigenous culture centre in Alice Springs? And if so, how?
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Department of Lands, October 15, 2014 (gas tank’s proximity to dwellings): Has the development permit [issued by the department], requiring a wall [between the tank and the dwellings], provided a waiver of AS 1596 which requires a five metre separation “to buildings on neighbouring property”?
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Chief Minister Adam Giles, October 3, 2014: Has he breached the Electoral Act by allegedly accepting a campaign donation worth around $15,000 in 2012 and not declaring it?