Thursday, June 20, 2024

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HomeIssue 1Rally racer puts CLP pedal to the metal

Rally racer puts CLP pedal to the metal

p22104-Ben-Kittle-1By ERWIN CHLANDA
At age 24 Ben Kittle (pictured), part of the third generation of the prominent local trading family, is likely to be the youngest chairman ever of a Country Liberal Party branch.
Local historian Alex Nelson isn’t sure but he thinks he’s the second-youngest, elected to lead the CLP’s Flynn branch in 1990 at age 27.
Mr Kittle, who works in the firm Complete Fencing and races rally cars, says he heads up an active Alice Springs CLP branch, with 30 to 40 members attending the monthly meetings.
At these lively exchanges with politicians and ministers take place, unsurprisingly with a keen eye on motor sports.
Mr Kittle says in 2015 the branch cranked up its profile: “We had better communication with the general public but a little more wouldn’t hurt,” he says, “getting out and talking to people.
“We’ve got the stall at the markets. Anyone can stop by and say hello to us, have a chat.
“We get a fair bit of praise for the good things the government is doing down here.”
p22104-Ben-Kittle-drivingMr Kittle says the stand-out achievements of the NT Government this year were Kilgariff, the new court house, new police stations in Alice Springs, Utopia and Yuendumu, “and obviously the future motor sport funding, the grants given to the drag club and speedway.
“Red Centre NATS was another really positive thing.”
Is there a strong flow of ideas and demands from the grassroots to the politicians?
“Definitely. That’s very strong,” says Mr Kittle.
“That happens on a monthly basis. Ideas can come forward and they get discussed. They go through to the relevant ministers or their departments. We get answers back straight-away. The communication is excellent.”
He says “even outside the CLP getting in touch with departments is quite easy”.
This is the wish list of the Alice Springs CLP branch which nominates candidates for preselections for Braitling, Araluen, Stuart and Namatjira.
• Lifestyle infrastructure upgrades should continue in Alice Springs with things such as Braitling School, Larapinta Childcare Centre and the Mereenie Loop upgrade.
• The government should continue the development of motor sports in Central Australia through the relationship between Motor Sports NT and the NT Government, things such as having the foresight of putting aside money for the upgrade of the speedway infrastructure grant.
• Legislative changes such as a rally registration scheme.
• The Local Procurement Committee should be ensuring that the local tender process is truly local as well as supporting the community and local business.
• Supporting ongoing energy sustainability through utilising Central Australia’s sunny environment.


  1. There is another Alice Springs issue which your branch could consider thinking about, Ben.
    Read about it here:
    Maybe ensuring increased availability of affordable accommodation is a little more pressing than further government subsidy of car rallies?
    Think about it: There are many kids growing up in this town in conditions so overcrowded that they will never get a fair chance in life. If we keep addressing this problem at the present snail’s pace, most of those kids will become adults without ever having seen the prospect of living in a good functional home.
    We do need a big push for governments to ensure a much greater supply of well-managed, decent, affordable and accessible accommodation for the poorer families in this town. It is a fundamental building block for a just society.
    Please ask your branch to consider making it one of their priorities.

  2. I’ve always said that Alice Springs should be handed over to the young people of Alice Springs to assist growing and shaping.
    What is needed is dialogue, not consultation when it comes to our young people. They are our next leaders of the community they need opportunities to shape the discussion and the future of our town, to talk about what they think is important rather than only opportunities to respond to topics.
    It’s refreshing to see some young local people getting involved in the community and political arenas regardless of their political preference, people like Jacinta Price, Jade Kudrenko and Chansey Paech have already shown what young people are capable of given the opportunities. Imagine if more young people were involved?

  3. I checked my files and found I was 26 years old when elected unopposed as the chairman of the Flynn CLP Branch in March 1990 (I turned 27 in April).
    The Flynn Branch was renamed the Greatorex Branch a few months later to reflect the change of electorates in Central Australia, after the old seats of Flynn and Sadadeen were abolished and the new seat of Greatorex was established – a loss of one seat in the Centre while the Top End (Darwin / Palmerston) gained an additional electorate. Sound familiar?
    Another marked similarity between 1990 and now was that the CLP government, after years of turmoil in the late 1980s, was struggling in public opinion polls in the lead-up to the forthcoming NT elections; however, the CLP managed to hold on to a narrow majority (13 seats) at its lowest ebb and CM Marshall Perron had the freedom to call an election at an opportune time (rather than the fixed terms we have now).
    A major contrast between then and now is raised by Bob Durnan’s comment about waiting lists for affordable housing.
    In the October 1990 election campaign the CLP boasted of the shortest waiting times for public housing in Australia whereby applicants waited only for a period of a few months in the NT, as opposed to years in all the other states.
    That began to change just after the CLP won its extraordinary election victory in 1990.
    In April 1991 the NT Government announced widespread cutbacks in public expenditure, and the government’s involvement in public housing development was a prominent casualty of these changes. What we’re dealing with today is a legacy of the decisions taken almost a quarter century ago.
    Incidentally, the theme of motorsports is another similarity between that time and now; as Marshall Perron was a well-known “petrol head” and indeed facilitated much of the development leading to the current dominance of this sports sector in the NT (the disaster of the Cannonball Run in 1994 notwithstanding).
    Ah, just think – all this was going on exactly half my lifetime ago. Perish the thought!

  4. One big difference with your comparison, Alex Nelson: Marshall Perron was a man of substance, conviction and credibility who came to leadership through hard work. Adam Giles is not. He’s antics, deception and lack of NT understanding are very telling.

  5. Another big difference, Sean, is that Marshall Perron never actually wanted the job of CM, and was always open to someone else challenging him for the position.
    He left politics at the height of his political career on his own terms, the only NT political leader to do so.

  6. Another significant difference, Alex Nelson (Posted January 14, 2016 at 11:00 am), is that Perron introduced the first effective experiment with using alcohol pricing policy to reduce harms, when he supported policy advice from Barb Curr and Marg Borger, amongst others, to introduce the Living with Alcohol Program and the Wine Cask Levy in 1993.
    Claire Martin and Paul Henderson built on Perron’s breakthrough with their reforms to pricing and availability in 2006 and 2011, respectively.
    The current CLP government wound back some of those reforms, to their eternal shame.
    Giles has no insight into the need for fair, equitable and effective management of alcohol policy. He doesn’t have an iota of those leaders’ integrity.
    He is just a power-hungry, opportunistic populist, devoid of all principles.


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