By ERWIN CHLANDA
The government with the worst financial performance in the Territory’s history has forcibly taken over one of the town’s prime tourist attractions and national icon.
The Acting Director-General of Licensing Sally Ozolins has appointed a statutory manager to administer the affairs of the Road Transport Historical Society Incorporated because it “has not functioned in accordance with the Associations Act 2003 or its Constitution and has not complied with various requirements set out in the Act”.
While the NT Government is reeling under an unprecedented debt burden that costs the public $1m a day in interests, the mostly volunteer group running the Road Transport Hall of Fame, the Kenworth Hall of Fame and the Old Ghan Heritage Museum has no uncovered debts, has $300,000 in the bank as well as substantial assets, according to Dave Kent, of Port Pirie, a board member since 2010.
He says he, other board members as well as the driving force behind the Hall, Liz Martin (pictured), have “walked away” from the management of the Hall – a month short of the national truckies’ reunion which has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the town with their annual functions.
Mr Kent labels the current government’s actions as “bullshit” that will likely turn this year’s reunion into a fiasco.
He says wrangling over demands from the bureaucracy has gone on for years without affecting the success and patronage of the Hall.
But now the drivers of the venture, which started in 1990 and had its official opening in 1995, have been removed by the stroke of a pen.
Ms Ozolins quotes herself in a media release: “‘We have sought to work with the association’s management committee since 2016 to help it meet its responsibilities however, given the on-going non‑compliance and the various governance issues acknowledged by association’s management committee, it is in the best interest of the members and the NT community for me to appoint a statutory manager.”
She appointed Rosey Batt of Adelaide firm Rosey Batt & Associates “to manage the governance and finances of the association”.
The media contact named in the release, Geraldine Capp, would not comment on financial issues of the Hall and suggested The News contact Ms Batt. Ms Batt has not responded to a message left by the News with a staff member yesterday.
Said Ms Ozolins in her media release: “Members of the management committee have ceased to hold office and Ms Batt is now performing the functions of the management committee.
“No comment can be made on the operational status or viability of the Road Transport Hall of Fame, the Kenworth Hall of Fame and the Old Ghan Heritage Museum. The statutory manager will determine this in the weeks ahead.”