Northern development is not answering questions


p2266-development-office-4 By ERWIN CHLANDA
What does the Central Australian Development Office (CADO) in Todd Mall have to hide?
How much is the monthly rent, the Alice Springs News Online asked?
No answer.
How much did it cost to fit out?
No answer except “upgrading the office to standard and fit out, including walls, plumbing, carpets, furniture and office facilities was done using local contractors”.
We asked who has used it (no names needed, just categories – e.g. investors, miners, pastoralists, media etc)?
No answer, except since its opening in February it “has had over 1,100 official visitors” – no further details given.
“The office has been used for 134 meetings” – but still no relevant detail.
But there is plenty of bumph “attributable to Northern Australia Development Office General Manager Luke Bowen” to go with it: “Under the leadership of the Department of the Chief Minister (DCM), the Central Australia Development Office (CADO) is an office and meeting space designed to support industry, investors and the private sector interested in doing high level business in Northern Australia.”
p2266-development-office-2The 293 meter office, which has four staff who are extremely friendly but not authorised to give information to the media, “provides the critical part of the network of regional offices, staff and linkage to the community, and is an integral part in seeing greater coordination of government activity and the integration with industry and business,” we were told by an NT Government spokesperson.
In an exchange that could have been a direct lift from the ABC’s satirical series Utopia, she asked, without irony, whether we would require door handles and coffee cups to be included in the cost of the fit-out.
“Central Australia to the SA border is part of the Northern Australia Development program supported by the federal government and the three northern jurisdictions of WA, Queensland and the entire NT.”
If economic progress of Alice Springs is measured by the expanding office space in the CBD occupied by bureaucrats (including the brand new the Office of Aboriginal Affairs), then the town is surely booming.
PHOTOS: The exterior in Todd Mall, in fact an attempt to copy the character of the historic Marron’s Newsagency bulldozed by a developer. As a passer-by you cannot look inside unless you are prone on the footpath or exceptionally tall. It is but the latest example of urban design around Alice Springs ignoring the wisdom of passive surveillance – “eyes on the street” – contributing to a more connected and safer community.
UPDATE Sept 9 at 9:20am
A reader has pointed out that the NT Government awarded tender T14-2166 “CADO Fitout” worth $463,759 to Scope Building Pty Ltd on October 31, 2014.


  1. How is this a story?? Does Alice Springs News go around asking all commercial tenants how much their fitout cost?
    Would you care to share your diary / meeting schedule with the public (as you pointed out, 134 meetings have been held without details provided – gasp!)
    And I believe if anyone walks up to the automatic door, it will open!

  2. @ “Gabs”: Rest assured the Alice Springs News Online will be asking questions about money being spent, if it is public money.
    We get lots of points for it.
    Why? Have a read of the citation at the top of this page, just below the masthead.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor

  3. @ Gabs: Procurement costs by Government on behalf of the people (tax payer) is (or should be) 100% public knowledge.

  4. This office is on the site of Ted Marron’s Newsagency, the oldest surviving building in Todd Mall until it was bulldozed without warning – this occurred late in August or very early September, 1988 (I don’t recall the exact date, as I write).
    The demolition happened during the Flynn by-election campaign, and was a major contributing factor to the CLP’s demolition in the election result of September 10.
    Labor obtained a clear majority of first preference votes but the CLP’s preferences (it came last) were sufficient to ensure the NT Nationals candidate Enzo Floreani took the seat.
    The CLP suffered a 20 per cent swing against it in the primary vote, one of the worst on record.
    The Flynn By-election result of 1988 actually changed the course of political history, not just in the NT but nationally, too.
    The reverberations continue to this day. Yes, it’s a bold claim to make but I can demonstrate the chain of events and key personalities involved – it’s a long and involved story.
    When I walk past that shop front now, I’m reminded of how things have transpired since that troubled time for the CLP in the late 1980s.
    As for the agenda of Northern Development, allow me to point out the supreme irony of it all, as over half a century ago this was the major policy plank of the Federal Labor Opposition under Arthur Calwell.
    There’s little to pick between what we’re being told today and what was being proposed by Labor.
    Calwell was the most frequent and enthusiastic Federal political leader in Australia’s history to visit the Northern Territory and northern Australia, and he in turn was inspired by the constant lobbying of the Member for the Northern Territory, Jock Nelson.
    It’s now a completely overlooked and forgotten history.

  5. I had an opportunity to visit this building one Friday last month.
    The NT Government held a meeting to share their ideas on “red tape reduction / elimination.”
    This was from an NT Government organization formed for this specific purpose (Eliminate / reduce red tape).
    The CADO office area and fit-out is awesome; closed off meeting room, nice entrance desk and sitting area; the builder’s done a great job.
    As I sat through the meeting I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why would the NT Gov form a new organization (more red tape, more taxpayer money) to get rid of red tape?”


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