Mayor Damien Ryan’s triumph over four rivals who had run a concerted effort to unseat him is a considerable achievement, especially in light of the fact that he is the only local government leader of all the NT’s major population centres to have been returned to office following the recent council elections.
Ryan’s victory maintains the pattern of every Alice Springs mayor since 1977 winning at least two successive elections; but it’s also the fourth occasion where the result has been determined by preference distribution.
The earlier occasions were George Smith in 1977, Fran Kilgariff in 2000, and Ryan in 2008. Thus Ryan’s recent victory is unique as this marks the first time an incumbent mayor has had to rely on preferences to cross the line.
Setting aside this distinction, there are marked similarities between Ryan and former Mayor George Smith. Both were small businessmen and both were elected mayors without prior involvement on the town council. Neither had stood for alderman, too. ALEX NELSON reminisces.
PHOTO: Mayor George Smith with photographer Di Calder posing for her calendar featuring prominent locals in the nude – well, almost. Photo by CARMEL SEARS.
Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy has rejected the submissions from the Alice Springs Rural Area Association (ASRAA), which represents about 70 members, and from an undisclosed number of individual objectors, by giving permission to a land owner in Petrick Road to develop blocks substantially smaller than is permitted in the town plan.
ASRAA chair Rod Cramer says he had not been contacted by Mr McCarthy, nor by Karl Hampton, the Minister for Central Australia over the issue.
The minimum block size in the area is two hectares but Mr McCarthy gave permission for three lots of 1.79 ha, 1.8 ha and 1.56 ha, respectively.
The town council commented only on the application's technical aspects of roads, stormwater and other services, says Greg Buxton, Director Technical Services.
He says while the council was at liberty to comment on other issues it did not, because the NT Government authorities were unlikely to "pay attention" as the council has no role in questions of zoning.
This is a long shot from what the new Labor Government, through its Minister Peter Toyne, proclaimed in August 2001: “Labor [will] open up the town planning process, shrink the powers of the Minister to override the Development Authority, make it fully representative, give it a much greater autonomy from the Minister, and link it much more closely to local government."
NOTE: There are 1512 lots in Alice Springs in zone SD (single dwelling) over 1,000sqm. These are proposed to qualify for a second dwelling.
[Declaration of interest: The author of this report is a rural resident, a long time member of the ASRAA and an objector to the application.]
PHOTO: Approximate outline of the block to be subdivided. Google Earth.
NT Minister Chris Burns, who will not be contesting the NT election in August, is spending a great deal of time hounding MacDonnell MLA Alison Anderson.
Last week he tabled in Parliament an undated hand-written memo on Papunya Community Council Inc letterhead, advising its accountant, Peter Vroom, that a "Toyota Landcruiser Reg No 4528 254 was exchanged for three cars from A Anderson and S Hanley. This was agreed to at a council meeting 28-6-94. The three cars were donated to Dickie Brown, Sammy Butcher and Tobias Raggett."
The note is signed by Ms Anderson and the reported recipient of one of the cars, Mr Butcher.
What Dr Burns is seeking to make of this event 18 years ago is this: Ms Anderson was lying when she claimed earlier that she had "never benefited from any transactions at Papunya involving motor vehicles" as Dr Burns quoted her, because she had asserted never to have owned the three cars in question. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. IMAGE: The memo.
I'm going to borrow for this opinion piece from the comments – around 100 – which our readers posted on occasion of the town council election.
The Alice Springs News Online is proud to host an increasingly lively forum for readers' views, many of them also contributing a wealth of relevant facts. The forum provides an interesting window onto the community for the nine elected members of the 12th Alice Springs Town Council.
Among our most responded-to stories relating to the election was the interview with Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch, explaining her success in fixing problems in her town to which Alice Springs still doesn't have an answer.
Douglas Pearce wrote: "Please, please, please can we have her?"
The report prompted retired Alderman Jane Clark to comment that she didn't agree with Ms Baluch's public drinking ban, and saying: "I also wonder which of her initiatives has not been implemented here?"
And that leaves only this question: If they have all been implemented here as well, how come they work in Port Augusta but not here?
That was only just one of the disagreements of spirited election campaign ...
PHOTOS: Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch (above left) was a shining example – for some – of how to tackle problems. But she and retiring alderman Jane Clark (above right) were not on the same page.