By ERWIN CHLANDA
The gloves are clearly off for the new political party being formed in the NT, 1Territory.
President Braedon Earley (pictured) said in an interview with the Alice Springs News Online today: “You’re asking me questions about problems in Alice Springs. How come the Chief Minister doesn’t live there?
“I’m not going to give you the heads-up on what our solutions are going to be so that someone who lives in Darwin, while supposed to be representing Alice Springs, can pick up our ideas and run with them.”
Mr Earley says the party has more than 700 supporters. He says he could not give the “exact number off the top of my head” of how many of these are in Alice Springs.
Best guess? “I don’t do guesses.”
He says 200 supporters will be nominated to the NT Electoral Commission as members “in the next couple of weeks”. This is the minimum required to form a party.
That will make 1Territory the first political party to be registered in the NT through registration by the commission. All others, including the ALP and the CLP were transplants from interstate “where their masters currently reside,” says Mr Earley.
The party will be standing candidates in every seat.
NEWS: Who are the candidates?
EARLEY: We are not prepared to divulge that until we’re closer to the election.
The party will be against fracking: “We don’t believe that there is enough science to prove that it is 100% safe for the environment”.
The party will also be formulating a policy to deal with the “ice epidemic which is gripping every community in the NT”.
Policy platforms to deal with “everyday problems facing Territorians” would be based on “grassroots solutions” – including for Territorians in Alice Springs.
Mr Earley says “solutions, policies and platforms will be developed by the members in our first meetings in the next three or four months”.
He was a life member of the CLP, a former president, and left that party about two years ago.
EARLEY: I didn’t agree with the direction they were taking … their change from what they went to the election on, and where they ended up going. They said they were going to reduce the cost of living for Territorians, only to increase it. They would be open and transparent only to adopt a scorched earth policy with regards to anyone who spoke out against the government.
NEWS: What are some examples?
EARLEY: I would open myself up to litigation.
NEWS: One question in The Centre is, are you not just another party with its centre of gravity north of the Berrimah Line?
EARLEY: A couple of weeks ago I stood in the Mall for a couple of days and spoke to 35 or 40 people about the issues confronting Alice Springs and Central Australia.
Mr Earley says he gathered a list of problems and suggested solutions “not limited to alcohol abuse and violence, or the increasing vacancy rate in the Alice Mall, lack of spending, lack of transparency, tourism numbers and activity.
“There are some topics I’m not going to go into, and I’m not going to give the other parties the heads-up on our policies and solutions to make Alice Springs a better place.”
NEWS: Voters would be looking for something more specific.
EARLEY: You’ve got to remember, we’re 12 months out from an election.
He says the shortage of tourist accommodation in Darwin, much of it taken up by gas plant workers, has had an impact on the industry in The Centre.
As a tourist “you are treated like a farm animal, you are flying in here [Darwin] at midnight, you can’t get a night’s accommodation because it’s taken up by construction workers, before you hire a van or a connecting flight. There is your impact.
“We also need to talk about international airlines flying over the top of us and not being allowed to land here [to pick up] domestic passengers, or drop off on domestic terminals. That’s something we’d like to look at a later date as well.”
Tourism issues need to be seen from the perspective of the entire NT, not just selected destinations, says Mr Earley.
Experience of neglect outside Darwin has been with him all his life: “I grew up on a cattle station on the Roper River. I know all about a lack of spending south of the Berrimah Line. I’ve experienced it. I can relate to the issues that surround that mentality. We will not be falling into the same trap.
“The Territory hasn’t really advanced in 16 years. It’s been in a state of vacuum. Both parties are guilty. We’ve experienced career politicians with very little experience of living in the Territory and growing anything apart from their own personal wealth,” he says.
“We need to address the Fifth Floor, with people from a grass roots level, whose background is common sense and whose interest is the Northern Territory.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA