Why taxpayers' millions are spent: Don't ask.


p2327-Uluru-Ayers-Rock-2By ERWIN CHLANDA
CLP Senator Nigel Scullion and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles have given only general answers to questions from the Alice Springs News Online about expenditure of some $15m in the Mutitjulu Community adjacent to Uluru (Ayers Rock, pictured).
In a joint statement they said the quality of housing in the community would be greatly enhanced through a $10m investment to build new, and improve existing, houses.
We asked Senator Scullion and Mr Giles: “Why should the people there not be told to take advantage of the plentiful job opportunities in the park and the Ayers Rock Resort, both of which they own, and build their own houses on land they also own?”
We pointed to a report that the take-up of jobs by the local Aboriginal community is minimal.
A spokesman for Senator Scullion said: “Our investment in Mutitjulu is based on our approach of working in close partnership with communities to identify their priorities for funding.
“Residents from Mutitjulu are already employed within the park and the resort and the Senator would encourage both organisations to employ more local Anangu wherever possible.”
The joint statement said the governments have also committed $2m to develop a business centre in the community, $2m to improve mobile phone coverage and $350,000 to build a new bakery in the community store.
We asked: Is there not a business centre in the Aboriginal owned Ayers Rock Resort? And is the new bakery going to be run along the same lines as the one in Hermannsburg – which has been subject to criticism?
 The spokesperson for Senator Scullion (pictured) said: “Community leaders in Mutitjulu identified the need to build a local business centre.
“Details of funding for the bakery and governance capacity issues are matters for the Northern Territory Government.”
A spokesman for Mr Giles said: “There will be a tender advertised soon for new bakeries to be established in several remote communities and Mutitjulu will be one of these. It’s envisaged it will be similar to those that are currently operating.”
Mr Giles said through the joint statement that “$350,000 had been allocated for a new bakery in the community store as part of a broader partnership between the Commonwealth and NT governments to build 21 bakeries in remote communities across the Territory”.
The joint statement said: “In addition, the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation will receive $500,000 to install lighting and toilets at the Mutitjulu oval and $250,000 to improve governance capacity in the organisation.”
We put to Senator Scullion and Mr Giles: “What exactly will the $250,000 buy to improve the ‘governance capacity’ in a place that already has the Central Land Council and a parks management board, both run with public money?”
Senator Scullion’s spokesman replied: “Details of funding for governance capacity issues are matters for the NT Government.
“However, it is important to recognise that the Central Land Council and Parks Australia are Commonwealth agencies and it is vital there is a strong Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation to represent the interests of the local community.”
We asked: “How many games a year are being played on the Mutitjulu oval, which is some 17 km from the Yulara oval, and by how many people? And who is going to look after it?”
We pointed to a report that the publicly funded pool is managed by an Adelaide company.
The spokesman replied: “As with funding to upgrade any sporting oval, the number of games played on it is just one of numerous factors taken into account. Just as important, for instance, are local employment outcomes and community safety issues.”
The Australian Government has also committed to investing in adult education in Mutitjulu and is working with the community on an appropriate model to deliver better education and training to the community, said the statement.
Chief Minister Giles said, through the joint statement, the Northern Territory was also investing $2 million through a partnership with Telstra to provide the 3G mobile network and ADSL2+Broadband Network in Mutitjulu.


  1. I don’t know why so much is spent on remote communities. The people living in remote communities do it to be away from the city life and get back to nature, yet we are constantly building health centers and other amenities for these really small populations.
    It should be simple choosing to live in a remote community you understand you won’t have all the luxuries, if you want these move into the larger centers.
    People living out there should be given the offer of a new house if you help build it, then they can get some trade experience and will appreciate the homes more.
    And maybe this might lead to a career in building for some of them.

  2. Why is the government using taxpayers’ money to help invest in mobile coverage? I have a black spot less than 7 kms from Alice and I get no help from the government.
    Is Mutitjulu mob more important and creating more wealth for the country? Or just a vehicle for government to pin the millions of dollars sign on to ease their voters’ conscience?

  3. Very few residents are from the area, most from further South in the Pit Lands.
    They are attracted by the flow of money but don’t live in Muti for long.
    At any one time the population of the place is no more than 30 people.

  4. A couple of things I would like to know: Total number of residents there; how many houses currently in occupant okay level and how many people from there employed at the Rock.

  5. @ Baron Von Knowitall: In the bad old days of Commonwealth control of the NT it actually was the case that Aboriginal people in remote communities, settlements, missions and some stations were trained and then assisted in the construction of buildings and infrastructure, and were gainfully employed in various occupations.
    In many cases these people proved readily adaptable, innovative and good at what they did, keeping in mind that for most of them their experience of European contact was quite recent.
    I’m not painting an image of a halcyon utopia of a bygone age here, there were many problems and difficulties encountered during those times but overall the progress that Aboriginal people were making to adapt to their drastically changed circumstances was positive.
    That all began to change from the early 1970s onwards, when significantly there was a marked decline in attendance and performance by Aboriginal children at schools right throughout the Territory.
    This in turn is probably attributable to Aboriginal people gaining their legal “right” to acquire and consume alcohol from 1964 onwards.
    The consequences of this misguided reform has led (in effect) to the mass manslaughter of thousands of people in the ensuing decades, for which no government or Aboriginal-controlled organisation appears to have any lasting remedy.

  6. After sending you all those media releases and reports about the Mutitjulu pool and other CLC community development projects it’s disappointing but not surprising that you still fail to get your facts straight.
    The Mutitjulu pool is NOT publicly funded.
    It operates with the rent money the traditional owners of the jointly managed Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park have saved up over a number of years to strengthen their community.
    That makes the traditional owner funded pool the only remote community pool in the CLC region with secure operational funding.

  7. @ Elke: What are the facts we’re not getting right? As you say, the pool operates with “rent money”: That is received as a result of the park having been transferred to Aboriginal ownership by a government. The park is being run by a government instrumentality. It is being promoted by governments to attract gate money.
    Most people pay for their swimming pools with money earned by working.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor

  8. Aboriginal people, the first people of this land, are the owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (also Australia).
    The tourism business generates over $300m a year for visitors to the park, taxpayers’ money is royalty money from the Government.
    These Government mob owe us for using our land ever since the invasion over 200 years ago.

  9. There are still many communities without adequate mobile and internet services.
    The Commonwealth’s generosity in providing such funding to wealthy landowners creates frustration among many Australians, particularly those on or below average weekly incomes who are denied similar largesse.
    If the Commonwealth provides the same generous public assistance to every Australian owning a block of land, the national housing crisis – both lack of housing and construction, likely would be solved.


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