By ERWIN CHLANDA
“It’s pretty clear, if we had a look at any of those groups and their strategic planning, you can bet your bottom dollar that all of them include sustainable livelihoods, in some shape or form, in their core values and goals.”
Jade Kudrenko (above) was proposing a diplomatic way of dealing with the diverse – often antagonistic – interest groups in the town.
We’d asked the next general manager of the Arid Lands Environment Centre which of the town’s other main lobbies – the Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Central Australia and the Lhere Artepe native title organisation – are likely to be on the same wavelength with ALEC.
She was making it clear that collaboration rather than antagonism will be her style, whilst retaining the group’s objectives, including opposing fracking and protecting water.
“How does this relate to the recommendations from the fracking inquiry? Quite clearly, it looks to us like a failure to implement these recommendations,” says the former worker in operational and leadership positions in natural and cultural resource management, local government and Aboriginal employment sectors, as a media release describes her.
Confrontation will clearly take a back seat to communication.
Says Ms Kudrenko: “I hope one thing I bring to ALEC, as part of its new era, is an openness and willingness to work with all parties, with the NT Government of the day, to hold them to account but work with them.
“I’ll be taking up any opportunities that I can, to have a seat at the table.”
Ms Kudrenko will take over from Jimmy Cocking who resigned to give full attention to his bid for Mayor in the August elections.
Interestingly, Mr Kudrenko also has a link to local government, serving as a councillor for five and a half years from 2012. It was a single long term because election dates for the Assembly and the council were re-arranged so they would not clash. She did not seek re-election.
Mr Cocking, at the helm of ALEC for 10 years, turned it into one of the town’s major lobbies. With 400 members it is equal in size to Tourism Central Australia.
If any proof is required for the dedication of ALEC members, 150 of them paid $80 a head to celebrate ALEC’s 40th birthday in an outdoor function at Olive Pink gardens – in the middle of winter.
“I thought this will be a test,” says Ms Kudrenko.
Mr Cocking expanded the focus of the group into training and commercial activities which Ms Kudrenko, Alice born and bred and mother of two, is now taking over.
The Community Garden on the Eastside where locals can rent plots and grow food is a major success. It will be duplicated near the Centralian Middle School, attracting especially younger people.
ALEC’s Arid Edge Environmental Services is a fee-for-service contractor dealing with food security (the gardens are among the ventures), consulting on food issues in remote areas, and diversifying income streams.
ALEC is a partner in Ten Deserts, a growing alliance of Indigenous groups in desert areas straddling WA, SA, NT and Queensland borders, cobbling together fledgeling business interests.
ALEC is also a supplier to Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy at Desert Knowledge Australia, who are running the Future Grid project, surveying the use of solar panels and batteries by householders in Alice Springs.
Opportunities for new projects seem to be endless, with COVID-19 inviting a “pause and reset” in areas such as work and where to do it, and management of distances as an asset or a liability.