By ERWIN CHLANDA
“They have made a terrible mistake,” says president of the Alice Springs CLP branch, Jenny Lillis, about the dumping of Chief Minister Adam Giles, who represents the local electorate of Braitling.
“Most of our executive are unhappy about what’s gone down.”
Ms Lillis says an executive meeting will be held tonight to discuss a strategy.
Mr Giles was replaced last night by Katherine MLA Willem Westra van Holthe (pictured), the Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries. His deputy is John Elferink, a former longtime Alice Springs resident. Both men are ex-policemen and of Dutch background.
Mr Giles’ style of government had become increasingly arrogant and he was disinclined to listen.
Commentators are drawing comparisons with Campbell Newman whose Queensland government was massively defeated on the weekend.
Another similarity is their embrace of the sale of public assets (leasing in Mr Newman’s case, although voters weren’t making the distinction). Mr Giles sold TIO, despite widespread opposition, and was negotiating the sale of elements of the Darwin port.
Alice Springs has seen little benefit from having the “Chief” a local and all its MLAs – Matt Conlan, Bess Price and Robyn Lambley – on the front bench.
Little has happened to crank up the flagging economy. Giles boasted of his government’s construction of three police stations and the new Supreme Court, but apart from a short-term benefit to the building industry these will not provide ongoing prosperity.
Mr Giles did not divert $24m to long term benefit of the town from the rail overpass funded by a like-minded government in Canberra.
His much publicised economic initiatives – such as Melanka – largely consisted of encouraging private investment.
Mr Giles led the way in his government’s use of minders in the place of direct communication, not a new strategy but one that was made endemic by the Giles government and an insidious blight on democracy.
Public distrust has also grown of the Giles government’s headlong promotion of natural gas production with extensive use fracking.
In fairness it should be noted that Mr Giles wasn’t presented all that much to listen to: local leaders seemed more inclined to wait and see what he would do for the town, rather than put forward initiatives to make the most of the opportunity of – initially – having on the front bench all five MLAs in the southern NT, and a friendly government in Canberra.
The location is the Showgrounds, the event, the 2014 Alice Springs Show.
Mr Giles is there as the Chief Minister, representing the government that Territorians had elected in 2012.
The Alice Springs News Online is filming a clip to be inserted in the report of a interview with him on that day.
The female photographer snapping Mr Giles, shouting “Beautiful” is his minder, Danielle Parry.
The man calling him “Sir” (as Mr Giles clearly likes it) is a Murdoch staffer dabbling in journalism as well as writing puff pieces for advertisers.
UPDATE 11:15am: Subsequent to Adam Giles refusing to sign a letter of resignation, an instrument to remove Adam Giles from the position of Chief Minister must be prepared for the Administrator. This will delay the swearing in ceremony planned for 11.00am today. A revised media advisory will be sent out in due course. [Media release.]