By OSCAR PERRI
Setting himself apart from the big ideas other candidates are bringing to the table, Cr Matt Paterson isn’t promising to “fix the world” as Mayor of Alice Springs, instead returning the focus to “doing the core business of council”.
New infrastructure projects feature in his election campaign, he is pushing for upgrades to sports facilities and community infrastructure, as well as a different tactic to waste reduction and the re-introduction of the MyAlice voucher program to support businesses through the tail end of COVID19.
Highlighting netball as the most played women’s sport in town, Cr Paterson says upgrading the outdoor courts at the Pat Gallagher Netball Centre by the start of the 2023 season is his top priority.
He is supported by the Alice Springs Netball Association for the project, and says that the NT Government, as his planned source of funding, are currently “looking at it”, though he does not have a figure for how much it will cost.
“This is obviously going to be quite an expensive project, but if we can work collaboratively as local government, with the [netball] association, and then the Territory government then it’s definitely achievable.
“Sport is a way of life in Alice Springs, so it’s very important, and so investing in it is very important for us to keep on top of it, and try to provide the best facilities for our residents.”
Cr Paterson says he is “passionate” about community infrastructure, and is pushing to see work continue on a community outdoor space for which he made a business plan in 2018 that received endorsement from council, but is awaiting funding.
The project is estimated to cost around $2m and will feature a play area, basketball, table tennis and other games, as well as rolling plans for a new skatepark into the project, all of which he says should be designed with accessibility in mind.
A recent consultation from skatepark design and construction company Convic quoted $2m to build a regional level skatepark alone. The location is undecided and pending community consultation, Cr Paterson says he would like to see it somewhere in the CBD.
“The new skate park is already a shovel ready project, but if we can implement it as a community outdoor space we can get more bang for our buck.”
Again, no figure is mentioned.
“We’ve got a federal election coming up, whether it’ll be late this year, or early next year and I think this is something that we can take to the Feds, as well as the Northern Territory Government, and say if we all go in here together, can we get this built?
“We can do more to provide spaces for everybody, we only have one disability swing in town, I think that we need to have spaces that offer children of all backgrounds places to interact together.”
He plans to appoint some Alice Springs youths ambassadors of the project, as a means of increasing council’s youth engagement.
“We know that studies suggest that engaging the youth in activities like this helps them gain vital skills, responsibilities, and confidence.”
Cr Paterson wants to give residents the option of a smaller wheelie bin at a lower cost to encourage them to reduce their contribution to landfill, as well as lobbying for a food and organics bin at the Regional Waste management facility. He says it would be a cost effective “first step” in reducing landfill.
Cr Paterson does not disclose how cost effective.
“At the moment it will cost a huge amount of money for people to have three bins, so I don’t think it’s the right time to hit people with a huge bill for curbside recycling.
“It’s the start of the conversation and incentivising people to become conscious about their waste.
“It provides an option to people that if they want to separate their cardboard, their food and organics, etc, they don’t need to pay for a 240 litre bin.”
Pointing to the ups and downs that the tourism industry is experiencing due to interstate lockdowns, Cr Paterson says Alice Springs businesses have not yet emerged from the financial shadows of COVID, and still need council’s support.
He wants to see the return of the successful MyAlice discount vouchers for two more rounds over the quieter summer period. Council contributed $200,000 into the program which was matched by the NT Government, and saw just under $2.8m go into the local economy.
“Businesses are struggling, so how can council assist those businesses? It’s by this scheme, it’s got a proven track record.”
He has not yet made contact with the NT Government for support but is confident that they will be on board, “they’ve done it once before, I couldn’t see why they wouldn’t do it again”.
Cr Paterson says he does not buy into the divisions that have plagued the 13th council, and has always voted on what he thinks is best for the community.
“I’ve been elected by people to stand up for what I believe in, and I’ve done that regardless of what people other people vote on.”
PHOTO: Cr Paterson with wife Katelyn and children Olive and Jasper.