Clinical Nurse Manager Jeanette Berthelson in the emergency department opened in 2013.
By JULIUS DENNIS
The Territory Alliance (TA) has today announced plans for a new hospital in Alice Springs by 2032, should they get elected this August.
“The current Alice Springs hospital is passed its use-by date. There is literally no space for expansion at the current site,” says TA deputy leader and member for Araluen Robyn Lambley.
Ms Lambley went on to say the new hospital is “precisely what we need, a modern vision of healthcare going into the next 50 to 70 years”.
The TA says that they do not have a site in mind for the new hospital, but wherever it ends up will be the result of heavy doses of community consultation.
As for the current hospital, the party does not know its exact purpose in the future, other than that it “will be retained as a health precinct and provide primary health and non-acute services”.
Due to the longsighted nature of infrastructure builds of this scale, for now the TA is simply planning on planning a new hospital, promising to seek $4m over four years in national partnership funding for the “initial scope of work stages”.
Much of the strategy for the promised hospital is based on lessons learned from the building of the Palmerston hospital which took “approximately ten years to plan and build”.
The project is an idea that has been floated by Ms Lambley since 2016, before the TA even existed.
“People who have followed me in politics know that it is something I have put forward numerous times,” she says.
“Now the Territory Alliance has decided to absolutely commit,” says Ms Lambley.
While the Territory Alliance is the youngest party in this year’s election, they have committed the most rounded policy package for public debate of any of the big guns so far.
In written answers to questions posed by the News, Ms Lambley, acting as the voice of the party in Central Australia, covered a wide range of issues key to the upcoming election.
On the topic of youth crime committed by a small number of adolescents, the party says that “over the past few year’s youth crime has crippled Alice Springs socially and economically,” due what they see as a system with “virtually no consequences.
“It is possible to have a system in which there are real consequences for juvenile offending; in which there are real opportunities for kids to rehabilitate; and in which the safety and well-being of the whole community is maintained. One does not have to negate the other.”
In a press release titled “Youth crime: Justice delayed is Justice denied” on July 10, the TA outlined their plans for a Community Justice Commission that “will provide advice and direction to ensure justice is swift and not subject to the delays currently being experienced”.
The size or make up this commission is not yet clear.
A large part of their plan relies on a curfew for children under the age of 16, as well as a safe place — possibly the old police station — where children who cannot return home can spend the night.
The TA says they see this a “child protection issue,” and will treated as such. The nocturnal work of protecting these children will apparently be undertaken by a mixture of “government and non-government youth workers, child protection workers and the police”.
The current look of juvenile justice: Will TA change it?
The TA says this will not be a treated as a criminal problem unless necessary.
“The NT Police will not be running around the streets at night throwing innocent children into paddy wagons and locking them up.
“This strategy is not about criminalising children. It is about protecting these children and in doing so, reducing youth crime.”
Further, Ms Lambley says that any children on the streets at night will not be held against their will, and would rather be “urged to comply with the Night Time Youth Strategy and stay off the streets past a certain time.
“This is not a punitive measure but our Government will be strict in imposing this requirement. It will be unacceptable that children roam the streets at night. Parents will be held accountable.”
In their youth crime media release, TA says that they will follow the recommendations of the 2017 Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory. One recommendation of that commission was raising the age of criminal responsibility.
Ms Lambley says that before an NT Government can do that, “it must put in place options for kids that do offend. The public must be guaranteed that kids will face consequences.
“The infrastructure and strategies must be created and built before we move to the next step. After implementing our youth justice policy we will consult on the issue of increasing the age of criminal responsibility.”
On other subjects that effect the Alice and Central Australia, the TA is sticking to their guns on their no fracking policy, which they say “is primarily about the preservation of our ground water supply,” but can also be seen as a game changer for the agriculture sector.
TA leader Terry Mills says he will be the minister for agriculture, should the party get elected. In a policy position paper published last week, the TA outlined their plans for a “sustainable farming future” which they see as a linchpin industry for the future of the Territory economically.
The paper quotes sustainable agriculture, which describes the practice as “resource conserving, socially supportive and environmentally sound”.
The party floats the idea of producing high-end food products for a growing Asian middle-class as a huge financial gain the NT should be pouncing on.
In regards to tourism in Central Australia, the party says “attracting private investment into parks is a critical factor to ensure we are showcasing the best we have to offer,” but little more. They will supposedly be releasing their tourism policy in the “near future”.
Much of the same can be said for any debt solving plans. Any “fiscal and economic policy will be based on the data provided to Territorians on July 31 by the NT Treasurer,” says Ms Lambley, so we will hold our breath until then.
National Aboriginal art gallery: commitment on site “in the first 100 days of government”.
Lastly, the TA says they will commit to a site for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery within their first 100 days of government, should they be elected.
However, they have “major concerns” that the $70m allocated to the project in the 2016 budget is no longer there. That’s a worry considering the CARGO (Central Australian Regional Group of Organisations) TERC submission for a National Aboriginal Indigenous Cultural Centre and Gallery is asking for $315m.
In response to questions on how much Federal support could be expected for the project, Ms Lambley says: “NAAG should be in a position to attract funding from private and non-government sources providing the modelling and scoping is reflective of what is required for this ‘national’ Aboriginal project.”
Find here further replies, from Territory Alliance incumbent in Araluen, Robyn Lambley.