Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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HomeIssue 7Four more years of same-same

Four more years of same-same

2469 counil elections OKCOMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
So much for the need of fresh blood to make the town tick: Headed up by re-elected Mayor Damien Ryan the conservatives seem to have it in the bag, what’s more with a succession plan in place: Jamie de Brenni has openly declared he will run for the top job next time and the next generation, the young conservatives Matt Paterson and Joshua Burgoyne, who preferences each-other, could well get their feet in the door.
The enormous vote for Jacinta Price is part of this conservative triumph, perhaps helped by a disgraceful Trump-style slanging match on Facebook, hardly Making Alice Springs Great Again.
So here we are again, a slightly expanded version of Roads, Rates and Rubbish, bereft of the vision and understanding of the superb opportunities befitting this extraordinary town and its human and natural environment.
Incumbent councillor Ms Price is noted for her low-key performance in the last council. One of her ideas was suggesting to install pedal powered mobile phone chargers in the streets as a measure to combat juvenile delinquency.
To be fair, Ms Price and Matt Patterson did well on the ABC’s recent Q&A, the latter with his question on airfares.
Cr Price has 2059 votes, nearly 600 more than environmental activist and loser in the mayoral race, Jimmy Cocking in number two place, and more than double that of her nearest conservative candidate, Cr Jamie de Brenni.
Cr Price and Cr Cocking preferenced each-other in 17th of the 18 positions, signalling fireworks for the next four years.
The primary count suggests it was not a great day for democracy in this town. The Melbourne Cup field of candidates for councillor indicated a significant portion of the town wanted change.
Yet a third of the enrolled voters didn’t turn up at all (postal votes are still to be counted but they amounted to just 178 in the 2012 election).
Nearly half of the people who did vote did so in the two weeks of pre-polling, as many of the new candidates were still trying to get their message out or sought to develop it in dialogue with the electorate.
Some candidates made no serious campaign effort but finished up high on the preference list of prominent candidates.
But it’s not really a worry. Thankfully the council doesn’t have powers over major issues such as town planning, alcohol reform, crime in the streets, street kids (not his problem, says Mayor Ryan) and tourist promotion – these are issues the people will have to continue to fight out with the lame NT Government.
But the council could have been a powerful lobby for the town, with intelligent foresight pushing for major changes benefitting the community. Pity that this election will not bestow the credibility on the council to be an effective advocate.
What’s more, little change is can be expected, with succession plans already in place: Outgoing Deputy Mayor Mr de Brenni is all systems go for Mayor in four years’ time.
As local historian Alex Nelson comments, this town has seen big fields of candidates and conservative results before, but not for a candidate getting so much for so little.


  1. Part of the malaise that has become American politics and its domestic issues is the inability to accept the referee’s decision, and to fall back on to what seems to be petulant disbelief that the great unwashed could dare disagree with predictions.
    It seems conservative Alice Springs has reverted to type after its seemingly disastrous flirt with the Gunner side of politics.

  2. Cheer up, Erwin old chap! Alice could have done a lot worse than a bunch of dastardly “conservatives”.
    Down here in Mexico, we have inherited a Darebin Council of “vision”. Banning Australia Day, threatening Christian schools that teach heterosexual marriage, flying Rainbow and assorted flags over chambers, tripping overseas to climate change “low carbon” conferences in China (of all places!).
    It is absolutely Loony Tunes, mocking the local council charter.
    Yep. If that’s “vision” then I would be happy to stick with the tried and true until some enlightened and practical “vision” ideas pop up that can match what the “conservatives” are doing.
    Well done, Damo. Well done, Jacinta. Advance, Red Desert Fair!

  3. Ho hum. Just like with Donald Trump you get what you vote for, but apathy was obviously in play as there was a good chance to flush out the old guard and bring in the new guard. Hope the next four years just fly past.

  4. Seriously? Is this an article for a Greens or Communist paper? Erwin, the people of Alice Springs voted for their candidate of there choice you might not like it but it’s called democracy.
    The young Aboriginal man who you claimed to be a conservative is a kick in the guts, really? Just because his views aren’t the same as yours doesn’t mean he’s on the same par as Trump. This has to be the worst article on the Alice Springs local council election.

  5. Well if the majority of voters have elected the conservatives it appears that you consider them stupid for not sharing your “vision”. You must be a very popular fellow. NOT.

  6. May be the “conservatives” were elected, but if they have some WISDOM they would have realised that there is a good opposition to their tactics of domination and they would be more open to the views of the “progressives”.
    Hopefully the bickering we saw during the campaign will stop and the new council will work in harmony for the good of Alice.

  7. “Tom” needs to brush up on his comprehension of the words Communist and Green.
    The Alice Springs News Online has a proud record of independence from government and political party influence. We have reported on, or commented about, significant issues of economic development while the council presided for 10 years over the slide of Alice Springs towards being a welfare town.
    The council only had to look down the road at the Port Augusta Solution, reported by us in detail, to see what a resolute local government can achieve.
    Here are some initiatives we covered which the council could either take or have a powerful influence in making a reality:-
    • Move the garbage dump from the centre of the municipality whilst leaving the transfer station and the recycling centre in their present location.
    • Replace the pungent sewerage plant with a recycling facility that would fit into a tiny fraction of the two square kilometres taken up at the moment. This would stop the stench and the flagrant waste of billions of litres of water each year. Use the land, unencumbered by native title, between two beautiful ranges, for a string of purposes including residential or tourism real estate and recreation.
    • Open up the magnificent gullys in the southern flank of the MacDonnell Range in the municipality for locals and visitors, keeping the latter in town for a much longer time than mostly just transiting to The Rock. The first (eastern-most) gully is a few minutes’ walk from the tourism precinct, currently blocked by the dump.
    • Pressure the NT Government to expand and improve tourism facilities in the East and West MacDonnell so the region’s biggest private enterprise industry can begin to flourish again.
    • Do something meaningful about preventing floods in the Todd that can kill many people and devastate the town’s centre, while at the same time, in collaboration with traditional owners, creating an amenity for locals and tourists.
    “Tom” would have found all that and more in our seven million word online archive had he bothered to check.
    Meanwhile in our quarter of century of publication we have created for our readers (20,931 in the month to August 3, for example) a platform for civilised public debate, having published 15,054 moderated readers’ comments since August 11, 2011, including of course that of “Tom”.
    By the way, the victorious conservative councillor Jacinta Price is a woman and will possibly be the only woman on council. It’s interesting that “Tom” assumes she is a man, even despite her unmistakably feminine first name, reflective of his entrenched worldview, perhaps?
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  8. A considered and well-balanced article, Erwin, and a spot-on comment from Evelyne Roullet. The “conservatives” may crow about a “win” over “the others” but this just exposes their winner-takes-all attitude and non-inclusive political views.
    The party’s not over yet, with preferences deciding the final make-up of our new council. Keep up the good work, Erwin and Kieran.

  9. Mr Mayor: Please get budget flights and watch Alice Springs employment boom.

  10. Could this be why a lot of Councillors who campaigned on these exact matters didn’t get much including Jimmy?
    “Thankfully the council doesn’t have powers over major issues such as town planning, alcohol reform, crime in the streets, street kids (not his problem, says Mayor Ryan) and tourist promotion.”

  11. I reckon we’ll be alright. Damien and Rex will whip (bully?) the newcomers into line while Jacinta and Jimmy will learn to work together.
    Eli will look after our rates, our roads will continue to look good and the rubbish will still be collected.
    We may even see a new curbside recycling system introduced. This new initiative will come in at cost, plus a bit to add to our growing surplus.
    What can go wrong?
    Our biggest problem will, as ever, come from Darwin. Case in point is the drinks-container recycling depot.
    For some undeclared reason the hours of business have been chopped from five days to three, and now only one employee is working to process the vehicles waiting to deposit their containers.
    Do they really think people will queue for hours just to do the right thing while pocketing a few dollars?
    If this continues, I predict many will opt for the wheelie bin, and all those containers will go into the landfill. Or stay where dropped making our streets look as rubbishy as they used to.

  12. We needed a council that will focus on council issues and not the so-called progressive issues of gender confusion, revision of history including changing Australia Day, renaming Father’s Day, unbridled immigration, destruction of coal fired power stations and the associated “flattening” of industry as described in our inexplicable signing of the UN’s Lima Accord. It seems that’s what the people elected.

  13. It’s questionable whether a high number of candidates mean that a “significant” proportion of the town wants change, especially when the vote indicates that a demonstrably significant proportion doesn’t want change.
    I have no idea what motivated individuals to stand, but it is quite possible for a group with particular views to put up as many candidates as they can muster with the aim of getting at least a few of them on council, and perhaps that is what has happened here.

  14. One of the firmest rules of survival is to consolidate what you have before venturing further into the shadows.
    The Eskimos learned centuries ago to run experienced dogs with inexperienced dogs to get an effective dog team.
    They would have never entertained the thought of attempting an important job with a full green team.

  15. So much discombobulation amongst the Alice Springs News commentariat at the moment.
    Anyone would think that conservatives lost this election they way most of you are all carrying on.

  16. As a longtime resident of Alice, I felt it was appalling to see venom spat through the Facebook and other social media.
    Some candidates and supporters have shown their true colours. They didn’t contribute anything to democracy, and instead by trying to put people down, but put themselves down.
    Everybody deserves respect regardless of their point of view. All candidates should have been thanked for putting up their hands and give their time to the town because this takes courage and devotion.

  17. I guess unbiased news isn’t news in these times. Hard to hide disappointment.
    The people who were elected are the people the town wanted. Like it or not. To draw a correlation between the size of the field and the number of people wanting change is hopeful at best. And what of democracy? It worked to the extent we have it implemented and we got the people we voted for – like it or not.
    It would seem the town just wasn’t ready for a left wing revolution; to be run by people who are actively against some of the most significant influences on this town. Maybe they chose the safe option.


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