JOHN ELFERINK: "How are we to deal with the $5.5 billion projected debt left to us by Labor?"
It's time again for a treasurer to perform the Northern Territory's annual miracle: achieving so little with so much.
Prepped by all the hand wringing about black holes, the public is fearing the worst. Savage Power Water Corporation (PWC) hikes have already given a taste of what may be ahead.
Yet the NT, with less than 1% of Australia's population, gets 5.4% of the nation's GST. More than half the NT Budget, $2.7b, is from the GST. The Feds are also kicking in $3.4 billion over 10 years through Stronger Futures.
Add to that the millions in Federal welfare payments, and massive funding to NGOs performing – some poorly – state and local government-like functions, and we have an administration awash in public money. ERWIN CHLANDA comments. "How are we to deal with the $5.5 billion projected debt left to us by Labor?" asks government frontbencher John Elferink in reply.
PHOTO: Part of the new Alice Springs power station at Brewer Estate – an expenditure of the "black hole" Power Water Corporation.
A restaurant on top of Mount Gillen and a cable car to take people up there are being discussed informally, as part of a wish list, by members of the town council, the Alice Springs News Online has learned. The idea has been raised many times in the past 40 years. This time the suggestion has been made to have the starting point at the Desert Park, reliable sources are saying. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The visitors' centre, with photoshopped gondola, at the Desert Park, suggested to be the lower terminal for the cable car.
UPDATE Monday, May 6, 2pm: Cr Geoffrey Booth says it was he who raised the idea and explains why.
Sir – Get set for a rare and amazing sky event next week for the Annular Eclipse of the sun on Friday morning, May 10. A fiery solar ring will remain around the moon’s silhouette. Weather permitting, everyone in Australia, except for the western third of Western Australia, will be able to see a partial or full eclipse, writes Dave Reneke, of Astro Space News.
The Remote Jobs and Communities Program was announced by the Federal Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Julie Collins (pictured left) in Alice Springs. It makes no mention of the initiative by her Northern Territory counterpart, Alison Anderson (pictured right), aiming to subject regional development to "integration and coordination across business, industry, the community and all levels of government". Both initiatives were announced yesterday and have roughly the same objectives in the same region and are trying to help the same people: But it appears that when it comes to spending public money, one hand, once again, cares little about what the other is doing. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The new Regional Development Framework will have an open and transparent link with a cross-agency senior officers group who will ensure that government policies are aligned, that resources are shared, and that regional perspectives are taken into account in government planning and decision making, writes Alison Anderson (pictured), Minister for Regional Development.
Visitors to the Todd Mall could now access a total of three hours free WiFi over a 24 hour period, with a maximum of 200MB download available from any Wi-Fi enabled web browsing device, writes Matt Conlan, Minister for Tourism.
UPDATE May 15, 10am: Tiger announced today that Alice Springs once again topped the airline's voting poll and that both Alice Springs routes will go on sale this week from about midday today.
Tyranny of distance is a matter of pocket as well as mind: you feel helpless if your mum, or your kid at uni "down south" gets sick and it would cost you more than a thousand dollars to give them a hug. Or if your tourism business is running at half steam because people won't pay through the nose to a carrier that has a monopoly. So when Tiger returned with four flights a week to and from Sydney and Melbourne, Alice became a better place, reports ERWIN CHLANDA.PHOTO at top: The Finke, the oldest river in the world. A majestic view on the flight to Melbourne. RIGHT: Mark Griffiths took his kids Jaidyn and Shanese to Melbourne "to pay our respects" at the Anzac parade and watch the Essendon game.
In a new move towards accountability, councillors at last night's meeting were asked to provide a verbal report of their activities over the last month. This may be voluntary but it wasn't a good look for Cr Geoff Booth, attending the meeting by phone, to have taken no notes of his activities and to make no report. Cr Chansey Paech also declined the opportunity. Cr Eli Melky provided a list as long as your arm ... KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Cr Booth could have said, as others did, that he attended the recent Waste Management Facility media event. There he is, second from the right. From left, Deputy Mayor Liz Martin, Mayor Damien Ryan, NT Minister Alison Anderson, MHR Warren Snowdon, Cr Brendan Heenan, and at far right, Cr Steve Brown.
Two news items today are reminiscent of two much earlier events, equally related to each other.
The first is that a new speed limit of 70 km/h will commence today (April 29, 2013) from the Tom Brown Roundabout south through Heavitree Gap to just beyond the turnoff to the Commonage Road on the south Stuart Highway. The second story concerns the NT Government’s protestations against the federal Labor government’s apparent threat to withdraw or hold up funding for the NT unless the Banned Drinkers’ Register is re-instated. COMMENT by ALEX NELSON.