COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
Being such a lovely small town Alice Springs presents wonderful opportunities to have one’s fingers in lots of pies without having to try very hard.
Take Chansey Paech (at left), for example. He’s a town councillor, he’s the Labor candidate for the Territory seat of Namatjira, he’s the president of the Alice Springs branch of the Labor and he works for the Federal Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon (above right). That puts him on the Federal payroll, as he was previously at least partly and less directly so, as an employee of CAAMA.
Warren is the president of the Labor Party in the NT – at least I think so. Labor’s website doesn’t make that clear. I know he used to be. Chansey could have probably told me if he had returned my calls.
He mostly doesn’t. That puts him at odds with fellow Labor candidates Dale Wakefield (Braitling) and Scott McConnell (Stuart) who freely share with the readers of the Alice Springs News Online their ambitions and views.
Chansey has his aversion to answering questions in common with former Alice lad Michael Gunner (at right), now the tongue-tied Leader of the Opposition.
It’s such a pity, because we’d like to ask one or the other or both:-
• Will the oil and gas barons be able to take the Territory to the cleaners, as Adam Giles suggests, if Labor brings in a fracking moratorium?
• What would need to happen for the moratorium to end?
• Do they have a response to Adam raising sovereign risk as an issue?
• Or do they agree with his mines department boss Ron Kelly that it works in our favour?
• What have they done about Port Darwin, we’d like to ask, about its Chinese lessees and Adam, other than doing a Pauline Hanson: “I don’t like it.”
And so on.
So, the Territory has the misfortune of having a government and an opposition in a contest for who can be less transparent.
But so far as deathly silence goes, no-one does it better than Warren.
I’m greatly indebted to the ABC for reminding me of him, by inviting me to appear on their Marginalia program airing on Sunday mornings, which is of course about marginal Federal seats. And Warren’s is right up there: He is holding Lingiari, that’s all of the NT except Darwin, by less than 1%.
Gosh, here I was preparing for the interview, and I could not for the life of me remember when we last had something to report about Wazza.
I googled our seven million word archive. Yes, in 2007 he got a peripheral mention in a letter to the editor about Mark Latham.
It was an election year. He stood against Adam Giles in Lingiari who campaigned with the brave, if politically ill-considered slogan: “No more sit-down money.” Well, did Warren have a ball with that: You gunna vote for someone who’s going to take your dole away? Nahhh.
In 2012 a businessman was seeking his support, and there was a “no comment” from him on a health funding issue.
In 2013 we reported that he was supporting a very expensive government-funded program under which Robert de Castella took a very small number of young Indigenous people to run in the New York marathons.
In the media section of Warren’s own website, the most recent and only release for 2016 was on February 3 when he “acknowledged the passing of renowned architect Paul Pholeros”.
The one before that was on July 10, 2013, a transcript of a Sky News interview about the impact of Yirrkala Bark Petitions.
Warren released 14 media statements in 2013 in the lead-up to the Federal election. Then nothing for 30 months! Apparently nothing worth reporting on happened in that period for Warren. His constituents will no doubt agree, nothing meaningful happened for them so far as his performance is concerned.
Our Where Is Warren Google search continues. 2013 was clearly a big year for him, before the election, that is. In March we have a photo of him among aldermen at the rubbish dump for which he’d organised a Federal grant.
But try as I might, there was no trace of an informed, creative, perceptive analysis by him of the intractable problems of the NT, let alone an enlightened suggestion of what to do about them. More funding is about the extent of it, so much so that we have long labelled him “More Money, More Money Snowdon.”
His present day base salary is $199,040. That would make it, in today’s money, around $6m for the 30-odd years he’s been in Parliament, not counting add-ons for additional Parliamentary jobs, although they have been rare. Nor would that include the massive staff and travel costs incurred by someone whose contribution to the NT has been so paltry.
By far our longest serving politician (1987 to 1996 and from 1998 to the present) surely Warren could be expected to be the doyen of the Territory politicians, our elder statesman. However, it’s a case of the lights are on, but no-one’s at home.
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA