Labor: Culture centre, power plant, dam, bottle shop cops


p2310-Dale-Wakefield-2As the two-day Labor Party conference turns into three, a detailed decision on fracking remains a work in progress.
But Dale Wakefield (pictured), who will be taking on Chief Minister Adam Giles in the expanded seat of Braitling, speaks out on plans for a cultural centre, says cops at bottleshops could operate in tandem with a reborn Banned Drinkers Register, doesn’t rule out a Todd dam in response to massively increased flood insurance premiums, and says the lack of transparency over the $75m power station extension is shaping up as “another shameful legacy of the CLP government”.
She spoke with Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
NEWS: What do the people of Braitling want that they are not getting from the current government?
WAKEFIELD: They want some trust back in government. They are sick of the chaos. They want to understand what’s going on, a government that gives them information, that doesn’t treat them like fools, and listens to their concerns.
NEWS: What are those concerns?
WAKEFIELD: I’m just two weeks into my campaign. Ask me in a couple of months. I’ll be knocking on lots of doors. Especially with the addition of the Eastside it is a complex electorate, but that’s its strength, people who see the world in different ways. If we pull all that together we’ll have an amazing town. But it takes the ability of being in the community.
NEWS: Are you saying this because you think Mr Giles isn’t here often enough?
WAKEFIELD: I don’t want to speak about what he does. I’m still in that honeymoon phase where everyone is congratulating me on my nomination. People are pleased that there is an alternative. Now’s time to do the hard yards.
NEWS: How will you bridge the 74% to 26% gap in the 2012 election – 18% to 68% in primary votes?
WAKEFIELD: (Laughs) Come people say “congratulations” and others say “you’re very brave, Dale”. It’s really important to stand in someone else’s safe seat. Safe seats are taken for granted. People of Braitling are deserving better than that. I run in Braitling because I live there and I think we deserve a better deal, and that the government needs to be held to account.
NEWS: Charles Creek town camp is not included in the electorate. There’s a weird sort of kink in the boundary.
WAKEFIELD: Everybody who lives there is part of Alice Springs. This is undoing some of the work we’re doing to ensure the town camps are part of our town. I hope they will be adequately represented by the Member for Namatjira.
NEWS: Will you be doing a preference deal with the independent candidate Phil Walcott?
WAKEFIELD: We need to get rid of this terrible government, so I’m looking forward to working with the independents.
NEWS: Are you doing a deal with Mr Walcott?
WAKEFIELD: I hope so, but it’s up to Phil. He’s an independent thinker. He’ll come to his own decision.
NEWS: You’re inclined to propose a swap of preferences?
WAKEFIELD: That would be my inclination.
NEWS: You were working for eight years in the women’s shelter. Do you have any specific policies for women?
WAKEFIELD: The party will be making some announcements. Obviously I’m keen to have input into those.
NEWS: What are they going to be?
WAKEFIELD: The shelter is a women’s organisation but a very diverse one and I had to be across a wide range of Alice Springs issues. That’s a real advantage now. Domestic violence is a huge issue.
NEWS: TIO has hugely increased flood insurance premiums, something many thought the government, before it sold the company, had promised would not be happening. Do we now need a flood mitigation dam in the Todd River?
WAKEFIELD: Once a company is in private hands the government has no control over what they do. The government did say there would be no increases. People feel very let down by government with the sale of TIO. It came out of the blue. People are now paying the price, out of their hip pocket. Now it is even more important that we manage potentially catastrophic floods.
NEWS: Is a dam included in Labor’s options?
WAKEFIELD: Measures upstream from town many need to be put in place. Are traditional owners happy with those options? It takes long term co-operative planning, based on science and evidence, to pull a big, wide range of people together, and that’s something this government has just proven again and again it can’t do.
NEWS: You don’t rule out a dam?
WAKEFIELD: We’re really interested in flood risk mitigation.
NEWS: Describe to me the cultural centre as it is proposed by the Labor Party. Labor has announced it will spend $100m but gave no details what exactly this would be for.
WAKEFIELD: A group of people has been working on a cultural centre for a long time. Harold Furber is part of this steering group. We support this process.
NEWS: Is Labor saying, here’s $100m for whatever you are coming up with? Desert Knowledge, which Mr Furber was heading up, was hardly a roaring success.
WAKEFIELD: You need to talk to them. It’s not the government’s job to define that. It’s local people. It’s an existing process.
NEWS: Who else from the community, apart from Mr Furber, should be involved in this?
WAKEFIELD: It’s not my role to name them. It’s for Indigenous groups to sort out.
NEWS: Indigenous groups of the town broadly?
WAKEFIELD: It’s an Indigenous cultural centre. Definitely Indigenous groups. We don’t want to be disrespectful.
NEWS: That takes care of $20m. Where would the rest of the $100m go?
WAKEFIELD: We made a separate announcement for $50m for a national Indigenous art gallery, an iconic institution in Alice Springs, a national art gallery with a collection of international standard. It would include educational material making people understand how Aboriginal art evolved, where it is going, focussing on the modern element. We would hate for that gallery to be built anywhere else. Alice Springs is the logical place. We would need to bring in corporate and Federal Government funding.
NEWS: What’s the break-up of the $100m?
WAKEFIELD: $50m towards the art gallery, $20m for the cultural centre and $30m for developing a self-guided arts trail through Central Australia up to Katherine. This has a lovely sense of discovery about it.
NEWS: POSI, a.k.a. cops at bottleshops. Good or bad?
WAKEFIELD: Good, because it has reduced alcohol related harm. When the CLP abolished the Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) things were chaotic for six months. POSI has reduced aggravated assault. It’s up to police to manage that, not politicians. They’re the ones with all the data. There could well be a combination of POSI and BDR.
NEWS: Ayers Rock Resort – should the NT Government spend money on promoting it while it is undermining the tourist industry of Alice Springs?
WAKEFIELD: The national art gallery in Alice Springs would be a big reason for tourists to come here. You can do both that and The Rock. It will bring people to both places.
NEWS: The $75m extension of the power station is occurring without any public consultation, some say locking us into decades of using fossil fuels, making us dependent on a single electricity provider and ignoring our massive solar energy potential.
WAKEFIELD: We don’t know how they have come to this decision. We don’t know what options if any have been explored. Is it going to lock us into a long-term contract, precluding us from looking at other options? Nobody can say solar is not part of the future of Alice Springs. That would sound so foolish to me. I am concerned we will be locked into old fashioned technology which is not flexible enough to keep up with changing technology, especially batteries. In other words, lack of planning and transparency. There are lots of people in Alice Springs who know how to do things more effectively.
NEWS: What if it’s too late?
WAKEFIELD: Another shameful legacy of the CLP government.


  1. How refreshing to read this article! Good on you Dale for providing voters with commonsense alternative policies to the CLP.
    It is great to see all Central Australian seats have now been filled with sensible, well-measured Labor candidates.
    All the best!

  2. $50m towards an art gallery is a good idea, it will be a drawcard for tourists and benefit the whole town and region.

  3. Why would you not invest more in the Araluen Cultural Precinct? Why build another gallery when the government already owns one? Why not develop more on what we have?

  4. Erwin, I am not sure what the legal situation is prior to an election being called, but for a fair and honest process all comments on the candidates or the election should have at least a full name.
    It could be checked against the Electoral Roll.

  5. @ Cogs and The Barkly Magpie: I’m exceedingly grateful that you are raising an issue of immense political significance. Allow me to add to your debate.
    [1] Our story states: “Dale Wakefield (pictured)”. Ms Wakefield is indeed pictured.
    [2] Elsewhere our story quotes her as saying: “I’ll be knocking on lots of doors.” We do not hesitate to take Ms Wakefield’s word for it.
    Any other questions?
    Love getting your comments … keep them coming!
    All the best, Erwin, Editor.

  6. @ Erwin: Did Dale Wakefield tell you where she stands with regards to the nuclear wastes dump proposed for lot 1993 Old South Road?

  7. Erwin, Dale maybe pictured clearly as you say but like a true politician she isn’t answering any questions clearly.

  8. @ Don’t Go There: Different perceptions for different people – I thought this was the first pollie interview Erwin has published for years that didn’t read like a script for an episode of Clarke and Dawe.
    I physically could not vote for Dale’s mob – if I even considered it, my hand would shake too violently in the ballot box to put a 1 anywhere near the ALP box.
    Family mob would then hunt me with nulla-nulla and just hurt too much. However, I found most of her responses valid and refreshingly so.
    Her only negative or unrealistic line was the last one. Perhaps she needs to be teaching Mr Gunner how to behave.


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