By ERWIN CHLANDA
Holiday special: A cabin (might be shared) and three meals, all of this for free, for $10, for $15 or $30 or $60 a day, depending on your income. Conditions apply: You need to be Indigenous.
Location: Alice Springs, next to the showgrounds.
Under public management: The buildings were supplied by the Commonwealth Government in 2011 at a cost of $11m. They were gifted to the NT Government which is covering the operating shortfalls.
The NTG has farmed out the running of Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park to Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) which normally owns the properties it manages – with considerable aplomb.
How much is that shortfall? Housing Minister Bess Price won’t say: “A letter of offer has been signed by AHL and the contract is being finalised. Given this, the figure is unable to be discussed.” And neither, Ms Price says, can the previous grants. She gives no explanation for this.
It’s an intriguing situation: Most accommodation houses would calculate their room rates taking into account the price of land and buildings (the mortgage?) as well running costs.
As the first two components are being covered by the public purse, surely the running costs should be covered by what guests are paying. They are not. Why?
“The continued operation of Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park will help reduce short-term homelessness for visitors and reduce the impact of overcrowding in town camps and social housing,” says Ms Price.
And: “Grants are necessary to ensure the Territory’s most vulnerable are cared for in appropriate and affordable accommodation.”
The vulnerable getting a trip to the show at taxpayers’ expense?
Says Ms Price: “Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park has reopened after being closed for maintenance in time to receive visitors for the Alice Springs show.”
Meanwhile Chansey Paech, town councillor and – some say – Labor Party aspirant to a seat in the NT Parliament, comments: “The Giles Government closed Stuart Lodge and were attempting to get rid of the Visitor Park.
“Stuart Lodge is still closed but I’m thankful they’ve seen sense and have agreed to work with Aboriginal Hostels to keep Apmere Mwere Visitor Park open.”
Ms Price says: “We are currently in discussions with service providers around options for Stuart Lodge.
“A number of non-government service providers have been approached as part of the 2015-16 grant funding round to gauge interest in using Stuart Lodge to target housing and homeless needs in Alice Springs.
“The discussions with the non-government sector have been positive and proposals are anticipated from the non-government sector for the operation of this facility.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA