By OSCAR PERRI
The Town Council last night decided against adopting a motion from Deputy Mayor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price for a youth apprenticeship program, instead choosing to develop a more detailed proposal to be presented to council in future.
The council will enter caretaker mode in a little over one month’s time, on August 5, giving little time to commit to the program before the election, especially given the extra work that is now required.
Asked by the News why she has raised the issue so late in her time at council, she says the idea came to her just over a month ago, and she has been working on the proposal with assistance from CEO Robert Jennings, council officers and Councillor Jamie de Brenni, who has significant relevant industry knowledge.
Cr de Brenni is the President of the Country Liberal Party whose endorsement Deputy Mayor Price is seeking as the Senate candidate. The preselection is this weekend.
Cr Banks and Deputy Mayor Price.
She says the program would be a legacy piece for her time in council, as she looks towards a career in Federal politics.
Council unanimously agreed to the amendment of the motion (to further develop the proposal) after about an hour of robust discussion, with Deputy Mayor Price saying it would “provide alternatives to incarceration for youth” in Alice Springs, as well as address the shortage of qualified tradespeople in the area.
The proposal sets the program’s start date for July 1, though it has no definitive plan for where funds will come from.
There is suggestion that money could be sought from the Federal government’s Economic Recovery Plan though there is no certainty of it, and councillors were wary of committing to the three year, $2m dollar program without further investigation of its feasibility.
The brochure accompanying her proposal mentions partnerships with local organisations Tangentyere Council, Aboriginal Employment Program, Desert Knowledge Australia, GTNT, Saltbush Social Enterprises, Children’s Ground, and Red Tails / Pink Tails.
When asked about them in the meeting, the Deputy Mayor said she had only had a single conversation with a representative of the Red Tails organisation, and no contact about the program with any of the other seven organisations she names.
The agenda item included a four page brochure presenting the program, as councillors saw it, giving the impression that it was a succinct, complete document, rather than just notes for discussion, which is all it is.
“It is unusual to have something there with a finished product and a brochure with the photo of the councillor and the contact details and all that sort of stuff, it definitely is unusual,” Councillor Jimmy Cocking said.
“It’s good for the Deputy Mayor’s profile.”
Deputy Mayor Price disagrees that it is “strange or odd” to use the approach to develop a proposal, though she admits she has never done it before.
She says that the program and the way it has been put together and released is not a campaign strategy for her contest for a seat in the upcoming Federal elections.
“If it’s too flashy for some elected members, then that’s how they feel about it … I don’t see an issue with the way in which I presented it and for me it’s about the contents of it, it’s about the initiative itself, and the intentions behind it.”
This morning she published a social media post about the program to the 134,000 followers of her Facebook page.
The post inaccurately describes council’s decision as a decision to “develop my proposed Youth Apprenticeship program”, when actually the amended motion was to develop the proposal, which in no way guarantees that it will go ahead.
With council going into caretaker mode on August 5 there are only two meetings left for this council to approve the project and commit funds.
Cr de Brenni says it is now in the hands of council staff developing the proposal:
“We’ve asked them to have a look at the possibility of extending existing apprenticeship programs which we do undertake as traineeships.
“That’s an operational thing that will come back and if it happens with due diligence, it’s got to be done in the right way, it doesn’t need to be rushed.
“It’s something the next council can follow through with as well.”
Other parts of the motion, to “pursue the Federal Governments support for funding toward the YAP through the Australian Economic Recovery Plan” and “endeavour to provide alternative pathways to incarceration by providing training and apprenticeship opportunities to youth who are likely to benefit from such prospects,” were passed unchanged.
PHOTO at top: The Town Council and CARGO logos at the top of Price’s brochure gives it an official appearance.