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HomeIssue 16CLP candidate Ryan compromised as town's negotiator

CLP candidate Ryan compromised as town’s negotiator


Just as Town Council negotiations with the NT Government for major projects in the town – the Aboriginal gallery, the CBD revitalisation –  are reaching a crucial stage, Mayor Damien Ryan (pictured, ABC News), with half of his four year term still to run, is pitting himself against that very government.

His ambition, on the side of a two-person CLP Opposition, is to be one of 25 voices in the Top End dominated parliament, instead of heading up the nine council members elected to serve the interests of Alice Springs.

The fact that the CLP preselected his son-in-law, Joshua Burgoyne (pictured, second from right), for the only other urban seat here shows the limited depth of the talent pool of the party that once ran the NT for decades.

Pictured at left in the photo is Bill Yan, endorsed for Namatjira. ABC News.

Mayor Ryan winning Araluen is by no means certain: In the wake of the annihilation of the Adam Giles CLP Government, and the still unfolding Michael Gunner ALP fiasco, voters could well be looking elsewhere to place their votes other than with the two “major” parties.

Araluen’s Robyn Lambley was returned as an independent in the last election  against well-known CLP figure Steve Brown.

Most Labor preferences flowed to her, delivering a two candidate-preferred vote of 2604 to 1873 in her favour.

In the Legislative Assembly she has managed to maintain quite a strong presence, notwithstanding the atrociously unfair allocation of public money for staff salaries to independents which currently outnumber the “Opposition” about three to one.

Ms Lambley, asked whether she is going to stand again, says: “At this stage anything can happen in 11 months.”

After injudiciously backing Michael Gunner on the location of the Aboriginal gallery in the Anzac Hill precinct, Mayor Ryan was forced to retreat in face of widespread community opposition.

Since then, the behind-closed-doors style of decision making he favours has left the ratepayers in the dark, from the get-go, about where their council stood on the gallery issue.

They should rather have witnessed their elected local government being in the driver’s seat, insisting, as a first step, on meaningful consultation with the people whose culture is going to provide the very art for the gallery, rather than allowing the dog’s breakfast of government planning to unfold.

Ratepayers equally know next to nothing on the CBD revitalisation plans.

Being frank and open is not Mayor Ryan’s forte: The Alice Springs News emailed him on February 18: “I’ve heard from a usually reliable source that you have joined the CLP. True?

“The source also says you have your eye on the NT seat of Braitling. True?”

The public deserved an answer to these questions but did not get one.

Given the delicacy of council vs government relationships about the gallery, the proposed sale of the civic centre, let alone the many millions of public dollars involved, a compromised Mayor should not be anywhere near the deals, and he needs to resign.

Because of the statutory time frame about council vacancies this would trigger a by-election.

Alternatively, we can stand by and watch Mayor Ryan use the opportunities of his $100,000 a year position to campaign for his election in another tier of government.


  1. Historically, Damien Ryan’s chances of winning a seat from his position as mayor of Alice Springs are bleak.
    As I pointed out in my comment piece 14 years ago, no mayor in the NT has succeeded as a candidate for the NT Legislative Assembly (see and scroll to “Fran: Fact and fantasy”).
    It’s interesting to compare the situation now with that of 2005.
    Labor was (and is) in government on both occasions.
    Mayor Fran Kilgariff stood as a Labor candidate for the seat of Greatorex whereas her successor, Damien Ryan, is now running for the CLP in Araluen.
    In 2005 Labor held 13 seats as it went to the polls but was returned to office with a crushing 19 seat victory.
    Labor now holds 16 seats, down from 18 as of late last year, and is widely anticipated to poll poorly in next year’s election campaign (which would remain consistent with the NT’s political history).
    Assuming Robyn Lambley chooses to run again as an independent candidate for Araluen, she will have a strong advantage of incumbency.
    It looks to me as if the CLP is hedging its bets on this particular contest.

  2. Federal, state and local politics in Australia is indeed at a very low ebb.
    It is difficult to find people anywhere who are really committed to what democracy is really about.
    The welfare of people is very decidedly a sideline with the driving force being a desire for power, self-aggrandisement, greed and a general culture of carping and assorted cant to fit whatever agenda is on offer that will gain popularity and short term advantages.
    A commitment to quality, true service and a deep respect for people and their rights are things that barely even attract lip service in today’s political climate.
    It’s not even that we need significant, well-intentioned leaders.
    What we need are dedicated, ordinary people who are willing to put people first with the collective view that quality of life is accorded to everyone as far as that is humanly possible.
    The likely outcome is hopefully that society in general will be more harmonious.
    This suggestion is to be viewed as being on a deeper level than merely addressing what best serves the common good.
    People want equality and justice in their lives and politics has an emphatically paramount role in providing that.

  3. Damien Ryan wanted to give our historic Alice Springs Anzac Oval site over to the failed Labor Party Gunner Government, until the good people of Alice stood up and got thousands of local signatures protesting that stupid idea.
    He never ever supported the idea of having a town curfew to try and at least stop the reoffending criminal children and getting them right off our streets at night.
    I find it very hard to believe that this bloke would actually fight for our town’s law abiding black or white people at all who are all sick to death of criminal kids (arse kissed and released), criminal youths being allowed to steal and disrespect), do as they please in all our shops, having communities without any punishment or consequences.

  4. One has to wonder what forces are at play that are completely fumbling and derailing the national art gallery opportunity and pushing for the build south of town due to non-existent cultural reasons?
    Support was given by a large group at a meeting at Anzac Oval earlier this year headed by TOs for the gallery to be built in town. Then next week there was a change of mind?
    If I was running a business in town that could benefit from a large-scale project like this, I’d be wanting to know what happened!

  5. It’s a pity we may have two good local candidates competing for the seat of Araluen.
    If Damien Ryan gets elected and if the CLP form government (that’s two big ifs), I wouldn’t be surprised if Damien puts his hand up for Chief Minister.

  6. Damien would be a poor minister let alone Chief, Bob.
    What has he actually done as Mayor? Not much legacy to see …
    It’s a good thing that we have Robyn to vote for as the CLP offering is hardly exciting!

  7. Good luck to Damien.
    At least he and his family have deep Territory roots.
    And I wouldn’t hold my breath for the current Government financing anything, let alone an art gallery. Dream on.

  8. “We can stand by and watch Mayor Ryan use the opportunities of his $100,000 a year position to campaign for his election in another tier of government.”
    I cannot see why Damien cannot do what other councillors have done before him; but personally, regardless of the political party, I will not vote for a candidate who broke contract or promises given to the electorate.

  9. “Because of the statutory time frame about council vacancies this would trigger a by-election.”
    Why have by-election – give the position to the runner-up, Jimmy Cocking.


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