Ilparpa furore: Business as usual despite 'cease' notice


2563 Tony Smith land 5 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
A rural resident protesting against more than 100 dongas plonked on nearby land at Ilparpa was told that the operator, NT Link owned by Tony Smith, was instructed more than a month ago to cease what he was doing. However, it’s business as usual on the 12 hectare site.
In an email dated June 18 the resident was told by the Development Consent Authority (DCA) it had “resolved to issue a Notice to Cease on the land owner/operator”.
Mr Smith is applying for a Development Permit for a “transport terminal” in White Gums.
An interstate based consultant acting for Mr Smith makes no bones in the application that it is “retrospective, as NT Link is currently utilising the site as a transport terminal for the storage of transportable buildings.
“The development of a ‘transport terminal’ is a discretionary use, comprising works requiring consent and a Development Permit is therefore required [under] the NT Planning Act.”
Meanwhile although misuse of land in the “farm areas” has been raised by residents for decades, and it is something Labor campaigned about while in Opposition. Now it has been in government for nearly two years and almost nothing has been done to fix the scandals.
In a hand-on-heart statement today the government committed to “improving the planning system to ensure it remains open, transparent and accountable, whilst also ensuring that the system listens to Territorians and gives confidence that the right planning decisions are being made”.
In fact a study commissioned last October is still in its early phase.
With an Orwellian title of the kind the government is so fond of –  “Building Confidence Through Better Planning – Review, Reframe, Renew” – the study has so far found that the NT Government land management is all but “open, transparent and accountable” in the view of a large section of the public.
Part Two of an opinion survey by an independent company has started today and will run till September.
This is what it has found so far:–
“The vast majority of Northern Territorians who participated in various consultation events generally distrust the planning system and decision making process, believe more meaningful participation should occur and there is too much political interference in the planning system.
“Participants particularly emphasised the need for planning system to be more transparent, inclusive and integrated … a need for information to be more accessible and clearer.
“Those who used the system more regularly commented on the need for an improved website connecting applicants to all relevant information, as well as making communication with service authorities easier.
“A high proportion of the respondents felt that there was insufficient enforcement of planning outcomes, and suggested more should be done to enforce the permits granted,” says the preliminary review, dated February 6, 2018 and released today.
There were mixed views on the review of the decision making process, in particular, regarding third party appeals [for people who are not the applicants].
“Many participants felt the current review system was adequate provided there was better communication and understanding of the planning process and outcomes.
“Others were of the view that third party appeal rights should be increased.
“Participants from the community consultation workshops, whether from local government or stakeholders / professionals who used the planning system extensively, acknowledged there are positive elements of the planning system but also suggested numerous improvements that could be made.
“Over 1,000 people within the Northern Territory were directly involved in the consultation, with additional residents reading the documents on the website.
“The consultation involved a broad spectrum of the community who had little to no experience with planning as well as those who used the planning system extensively and regularly.
“The vast majority of communities who participated in the consultation process were of the view that the planning system is not easily understandable and further that it is neither transparent nor provides significant meaningful participation.”
A report will be provided on the outcomes of the consultation process and recommendations in late 2018, with resultant actions to be delivered in 2019, says the government.
We are seeking comment from the NT Government and Mr Smith.


  1. There are currently nine properties in White Gums that could be classified as “transport hubs”.
    It seems anytime something new comes into these rural areas, the same people come up with the same arguments, while they themselves are already established doing something similar.
    Instead of complaining about the traffic on a skinny road why can’t we see this as an opportunity to pressure the government for an upgrade.
    Why does there always have to be so much opposition to change. NT Link have done a great job and there is nothing even visible from Ilparpa road.

  2. Opposition to change only comes when changes can be detrimental to the common good, or obviously in the blatant self interest of the proponent initialising the change.
    What is happening at White Gums is indicative of what is happening in other rural areas both here and in Darwin. It has resulted from the “anything goes as long as it produces income” which was the password of previous administrations.
    There has been extreme limited vision in planning over along period.
    In the current situation Brewer and development south of The Gap has been inevitable for years, and is now becoming obvious with the debate over Anzac.
    We have an enormous opportunity at Brewer where the potential for a transport hub has been obvious but ignored for years.
    There we have the intersection of rail, air and three cross national highways, (east west, north south and now if they play the cards right, north west from the Ord to eastern markets via Tanami) all intercepting here.
    Looking at the Centralian Pet. website and the distribution map of gas in Australia – it makes Brewer again the obvious hub for gas distribution, adding to its unique position.
    MacQuarie Bank appears to be the only entity to recognise this. No other place in the country has this unique set of circumstances but we fail to capitalise on it.
    Surely that should be flashing lights for planners and provide an even bigger incentive for the likes of NT Link and others to get in early for what could be a bonanza for them and solve the rural problem as well.
    The shortsightedness of the planning has been a disaster for the town with rapid developments in arid zone food technology recently moving offshore to Israel while we build houses on what should have been a prime agricultural industry and development site to demonstrate to the world what is possible to feed people and produce long term economic activity here.
    The lack of recognition of the Brewer potential has been disastrous, and this is where NT Link and other entities should be enticed to move into for their own future business opportunities.
    I also have an industrial development with graders etc. within sight of my house with the associated loss of amenity and I wonder why they did not set up on Stevens road behind the golf course?

  3. There are many home based transport businesses and other businesses in the rural area that are considerate of their neighbours.
    They have one or sometimes two trucks that may come in and out during the week.
    The NT Link transport hub has sometimes two to four per day of their ovesized trucks being loaded with the Atcos on the site weekdays, weekends and public holidays, plus generators running non stop throughout the day and tradesmen coming and going.
    You’re right, nothing can be seen from Ilparpa Rd except the driveway and entering / exiting trucks but it can be seen and heard from the clay pans and from adjoining and surrounding blocks.
    I agree in change happening for the better but why should the surrounding community have to suffer because of one business.
    Nothing against the business – just find a better located spot for their industrial operation.

  4. I don’t know what “Anonymous” means by a “transport hub”, but I would have thought Trevor Shiell used the term appropriately.
    Whatever, I doubt very much there are nine of them in Whitegums, although there are probably that sort of number in the total rural area, which of course is far too many.
    However, some would be classed as “home based contracting” which would not require approval depending on the size of the operation. Some would not.
    At least one (if it is included in A’s count) can only be classed as ancillary to genuine rural enterprise. A few of them would be classed as “pre existing” (the application of the Planning Scheme to the area), and so exempt.
    As far as the “same people coming up with the same arguments”, so far none of the folk speaking out about this have not, to the best of my knowledge, ever protested before in relation to any planning proposal.
    If this is what it takes to get Ilparpa Road widened for the benefit of those who can’t drive properly, or for the benefit of recreational cyclists, it’s far from worth it.


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