By ERWIN CHLANDA
Professor Mick Dodson AM is not an economic expert (his field is the law), which means he is likely to be on Michael Gunner’s Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission as someone with an Aboriginal perspective.
“The Territory has what it takes to become a thriving place to live, work and play,” is the motto of the commission which handed down its final report this week.
Did Prof Dodson, given his perspective, get a briefing on the imminent land closure by Arrernte custodians of Mt Gillen, potentially vital as a tourist attraction for a town fighting for its survival?
There is no mention of that in the report’s Executive Summary.
The commission’s final report this week featured a bit of fine print, quite high up in the executive summary, in fact.
The report says it is a “challenging call to action”.
Noting the economic situation of the Territory prior to and arising from Covid-19, the fine print “focused only on the industries and the enabling factors most likely to significantly shift the economic curve upwards”.
More than 370 potential projects were identified by stakeholders. Which ones got the flick? And why?
“Reconstruction” being a Gunner idea, he is clearly expecting that Beetaloo and its gas would “shift the economic curve upwards” along with a gas fuelled petrochemical precinct Darwin Harbour.
Mr Gunner is rusted on to the role of gas as a transition from dirty coal to clean renewables. That predictably brought Kirsty Howey (Environment Centre NT) and Deborah Di Natale (Council of Social Service) on the scene, thumping tables.
They are claiming the final report doesn’t tell the Gunner Labor Government anything it shouldn’t have already known about rebuilding the Territory economy.
“The whole process was completely unnecessary and quite frankly a waste of time,” Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro says in a media release.
“Our economy is in the bin, unemployment is climbing and businesses need the government to work with them to deliver outcomes.
“We need to scrap the hybrid mining tax, she says, develop gas resources, create a Territory Coordinator for major projects and slash approvals time frames by 50%. They didn’t. They passed the buck to the commission.”
Who in this part of the world would make economic predictions at a time like this, in a place like the NT?
Michael Gunner’s merry men and women would, with one or two VIPs sprinkled among them (Gail Kelly, formerly Westpac, and Andrew Liveris, oil and gas).
Each one of the eight capable of making $44,000 out of the report, the ABC discloses.
In a nutshell, there is a lot in the report of what blind Freddy has been telling us. Samples:-
• With reduced private investment over the past years, stimulus led by the Territory Government has been necessary, however this is not sustainable.
• Without sustained and courageous effort to grow the economy, economic decline will continue, resulting in falling relative living standards and challenging social cohesion.
• Growth will occur in the regions, with Aboriginal people pursuing new opportunities.
• Visitors are attracted to iconic destinations and experiences. Developing world class tourism icons, based on the natural environment and Aboriginal culture, will provide the focus for national travel and the return of international travel.
Has anyone mentioned that to the Arrernte custodians shutting down Mt Gillen where this kind of thing would work very well?
PHOTO: Mr Gunner performs in statesman mode for the ABC.