Time server Conlan gets government junket to Germany


p2321-Conlan-MattBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Who hasn’t heard Ted Egan’s ode to the Characters of the Outback, those marvellous people who give the Territory its unique identity?
Chief Minister Adam Giles had the choice to pick one of them when he needed someone to represent him at an international trade fair in Germany in March.
So why did he pick Matt Conlan (pictured), the so-called Member for Greatorex?
And why does Mr Giles want to cover this up?
The second question is easier to answer: Mr Conlan is a time server on around $200,000 a year. His electorate has been abolished. He’s announced he will leave politics at the next election.
He will be remembered mainly for calling a female fellow politician a ‘f…ing c…’ (he denies it), and, locally, for displaying outside his office a sandwich board showing the day’s weather details.
p2321-Conlan-office-1Even providing that indispensable information has apparently been discontinued by Mr Conlan, as the photo taken yesterday afternoon shows.
But of course Mr Giles needs Mr Conlan’s vote in Parliament, because without it the Chief Minister’s minority government would come crashing down.
The degree of Mr Conlan’s diligence as a representative of the people of Greatorex is illustrated by the fact that his last media release was on February 10. That was February 2015, not 2016. It was Mr Conlan’s resignation as a Minister.
In that role he racked up a $5000-plus tab in a Tokyo bar and had to borrow a government credit card to pay for it.
So why is Mr Giles, who himself is remarkable mostly through making a good fellow of himself by spending other people’s money (yours), trying to hush up Mr Conlan’s taxpayer-funded junket?
On Monday we emailed Mr Conlan: “Please tell me whether you have taken any trips, except to Darwin for sittings, at public expense, during the past 12 months. If so, please provide for each trip the date, destination, purpose and cost.”
There was no reply.
So on Thursday we emailed the same questions to the travel section of the Department of the Chief Minister.
After much buck-passing in several phone calls, we received yesterday the following one-liner from the Office of the Chief Minister: “I would suggest that you contact the Member in question directly with your questions.”
So, as they say, the Department of the Chief Minister and the Office of the Chief Minister will neither confirm nor deny that Mr Conlan was sent to the Berlin trade fair.
Take our word, he was.


  1. There was a previous local member of Alice Springs who attended a trade fair in Berlin (at least once), it was Roger Vale, the Member for Braitling, who in the latter years of his political career was a Minister for Tourism.
    I recall there was some controversy at the time over his overseas sojourn but, in stark contrast to now, the NT Government vigorously defended this activity.
    I remember a souvenir that Roger brought back from his visit to Germany, it was a piece of the Berlin Wall which he had mounted and on display in his electorate office located in Head Street.
    This period of time, circa 1989-90, the NT Government appeared to be in serious electoral trouble although at its lowest ebb during 1990 still had a majority of one in the NT Legislative Assembly.

  2. Mr Giles has been hanging on for almost four years now with minimal numbers. Say what you like about him, the man does know how to count.

  3. It’s hard to realise that Mr Conlan remains the Member for Greatorex. Has anyone seen him around his electorate (apart from going to and from home)? Is he still available in person for his constituents to consult rather than one of his minders?
    I don’t see him anywhere unless it’s in the NT Parliament during sittings (where one has to actually show up to get paid) and vote to prop up his toxic minority government.
    Apart from Dorothy Dixer questions to his party colleagues and occasional stints in the Chair as Acting Deputy Speaker, I’m at a loss to see what contributions he makes to the people of electorate or the Parliament. Certainly not value for money.
    Phil Walcott
    Independent candidate for Braitling

  4. It will make an interesting question at Estimates this year. If the trip was funded by the Department of the Chief Minister, they’ll have to answer the questions regarding where he went, for what purpose and how much it cost us, the taxpayer.
    Given that he is no longer a Minister in this minority government that gets the numbers on the floor of the Parliament because Larisa Lee votes with them (holds the balance of power in that respect), the Member for Greatorex will not be questioned during Estimates on this or any other excursions to the US, Europe or Asia.
    It’s no wonder we deserve better.
    Phil Walcott
    Independent candidate for Braitling

  5. If Matt Conlan represented the Chief Minister Adam at the international trade fair in Germany in March, we can call that business for the NT, as long that the taxpayers get a full report of his activities and what was achieved.

  6. The worst Member for Greatorex ever! Will be interesting to see how long he hangs around Alice Springs for after the election.

  7. Was Dennis Collins ever Greatorex, or always Sadadeen?
    I remember his excellent pancakes at our school fetes, and he would always help clean up.
    But he would earbash me with his right wing money conspiracy ideas, he’d discovered that most money is created by bank lending (which is why we have central banks), and thought there was an international Jewish world order controlling us.
    Also believed “they” we’re coming and we needed to bury caches of weapons so we could fight guerrilla war against the invaders.
    I think “they” were the Indonesians or the Chinese, certainly Asian. Beat Shane Stone though when the blow in first ran for Parliament.

  8. @ Ian: Alex Nelson will know. I think Dennis Collins was only ever Sadadeen but I wasn’t here yet so am happy to defer to Alex’s knowledge.
    @ Desert Rat: Gone by Xmas, I reckon.

  9. @ Ian Sharp and Phil Walcott: Denis Collins was first elected as the Member for Alice Springs in 1980. He had won preselection as the CLP candidate for the seat after successfully challenging the incumbent member Rod Oliver.
    In 1983 the NT Legislative Assembly was increased from 19 seats to 25, and this led to the replacement of the Alice Springs electorate with Sadadeen. Collins won the seat in the CLP’s landslide election victory of early December that year.
    In early 1987 Collins was in turn challenged and defeated by Shane Stone for preselection as the CLP candidate for Sadadeen but he ran as a conservative independent and retained the seat in the NT elections held in March.
    In 1990 a redistribution of electoral boundaries resulted in the abolition of Sadadeen and the neighbouring electorate of Flynn, replaced by the new electorate of Greatorex.
    Collins retained the seat with the aid of preferences from Labor candidate Harold Furber in the election campaign of October 1990, narrowly defeating the CLP candidate Bob Kennedy.
    Collins was perceived as increasingly radical right-wing during this next term of office and was defeated easily by the CLP candidate Richard Lim in the elections of June 1994. Dr Lim held the seat for 13 years, retiring from politics in 2007 and triggering a by-election for Greatorex, which was won by the current member Matt Conlan.

  10. I bet Matt stayed away for as long as he could – unlike his leader, who has just scuttled back from China a day or so early because he said he had finished his business over there.
    Nobody will say how much extra this cost or even if it was a scheduled flight or another special charter.
    Perhaps he heard some numbers were being counted. Perhaps he suddenly remembered what happened to the last leader when he was in Asia.
    Perhaps he heard Malcolm was in town and he didn’t want another discussion about the port sale.
    I am sure you could come up with many conspiracy theories around this one.
    That’s what happens when people stop believing what the leader says.
    Peter Styles as Chief Minister? Surely we haven’t come to that.

  11. Matt did many great things in Alice as a volunteer and community member – maybe a move away from Giles is a warning sign for Alice Springs.

  12. Interesting reminiscing about dear old Dennis, Ian Sharp.
    The last time I was spoken to by Dennks was at a wedding at the Date Farm. I found out that Martyn Bryant was a patsy and that the Twin Towers was a funded Jewish International conspiracy too.
    Dennis was clever enough to provide free pancakes for free votes on election day. A sad blight on his constituents.

  13. Howard, not surprised to hear of Dennis’ take on Bryant and 9/11. Some people seem to have a conspiracy gene.

  14. Howard Davies (Posted April 19, 2016 at 11:20 am): After he spoke to you, Dennis moved his guns and freedom lovin’ ways to a farm near Whitton in NSW, quite close to one of my cousins.
    That can’t have been safe enough for him though: after a few years he hitched up the Freedom Scouts trailer again, and was last seen in a cloud of dust heading for the backblocks of Tassie.

  15. Good to see that the flame of Dennis’s paranoia stayed briefly alight, Alex Nelson (Posted April 27, 2016 at 10:18 am).
    Or maybe it still occasionally flickers, in remote Tassie forest clearings, at secret jamborees of Australia First or the Patriots Front, or whatever, where the pancakes still flip vigorously at every mention of the Moslem hordes and/or Chinese investors.

  16. Well, Adam Giles had to send someone, and I suppose Matt Conlan, being the most distinguished speaker in Parliament, was given the job.
    Haven’t your papers anything better to write about!!!!!
    Matt Conlan has done so much for Alice Springs since being elected. I believe he has been offered many radio talk-back positions interstate since he stated he was not standing for the next elections.


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