LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – I’ve lived and worked in Central Australia throughout my life. I believe that the Alice Springs Town Council has unfulfilled potential to shape a more prosperous future for this inland capital of Central Australia.
How can the voice of Council be used to shape and influence public debate? Councillors are not meant to be the font of all wisdom, or ideas, rather as conduits for both public concerns and expert knowledge. I’m a geek for the way cities work to support people’s lives.
The council needs to seek and earn greater control of its destiny from the NT Government. Expert advice at times is rejected or treated with disdain. The elected members need more eyes on the horizon, Alice in 2050.
We need a cycling masterplan to become a cycling Mecca. Along with the natural endowments, the town has good infrastructure to build on.
Council, preferably in concert with the NT Government, needs to more directly support local entrepreneurs, seed funding small-scale ideas, some as cash but mostly in-kind support, leveraging existing systems and services offered by the council. The library is a fabulous resource and already running programs that support local innovation.
We need people on council who understand the leading edge of urban development.
Alice Springs should be the solar capital, not just of Australia, but of the world. The foundations are here. The council is already covering its buildings in solar panels. How else should it drive solar? For example, how could it assist community-owned solar energy projects? Council should be driving the conversation, demonstrating the possibilities, not just keeping up.
The foundations are there. Solar Cities, a good feed-in tariff, energy generation – there is a wealth of expertise here that is already exporting our experience to the rest of the world.
Tourism is about exporting our way of life. If we want tourism to thrive, we need to focus on making Alice Springs a great place to live – for everyone.
Arts and Culture: I’m heavily involved in this sector and recognise the valuable contribution that Council makes, financially and in-kind. The National Indigenous Arts and Culture Centre (works well as one thing, right?) has seismic potential for our community.
I’ve just returned from lengthy travels in European cities. There is an explosion in thinking about how we design and organise our towns and cities, leveraging new technology and drawing more easily on the experiences of other places and peoples. Sustainable living is increasingly a core focus: Digital connectivity, cycling, electric vehicles, public transport, renewable energy, accessible and open spaces.
I ask: Should Council be more involved with Tourism Central Australia and the Visitor Information Centre?
Recycling is necessary, creating a sustainable community is essential.
There are young people seemingly uncared for, crime is intruding on everyone’s lives.
When I worked for the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, we were tasked by the SA government to tackle the issue of child protection. The first thing the team, made up of experts and people with direct experience, did was turn it upside down and reframe the question: What are the optimal conditions we would aim for? To which the answer was, thriving families.
We need greater local control of planning. Decision-making should occur as close to and with as great a level of inclusion as possible, to those effected by the decisions. People are still stinging from the disempowerment felt through a few decisions taken during the last NT Government, the Malanka site a case in point.
Property-owners, through incentive, if possible, should act in the best interests of the town. Absentee landlords and exorbitant rent levels, out of step with the market, can create the impression that the town is struggling or in economic despair. In fact the empty-shopfront reality is closer to a malaise caused by tax structures and unreasonable expectations.
Our elections need town halls and public forums coordinated through the NT Electoral Commission. Putting the onus on candidates would reinforce the present situation, providing an advantage to well-resourced nominees, where marketing budgets largely determine access to information and provide profile [favouring] a parochial plutocracy. Vested interests stifle new ideas and positive change.
Candidate for Councillor