Four students from Areyonga have graduated from Year 12 at the Unity College at Murray Bridge, South Australia. Pictured from left are Tarna Andrews (Areyonga Teacher), students Jimmy (Mick) Doolan, Selinda Hopkins, Claudia Coulthard, Christopher Doolan and Jonty Fernando (Areyonga School Principal).
MacDonnell Shire Council reinstated its leadership duo at the first meeting of the new council yesterday, returning Sid Anderson to the presidency, with Roxanne Kenny as his deputy.
Councillor Irene Nangala nominated Cr Anderson, seconded by Cr Lance Abbott. Both are from Luritja Pintubi Ward in the north-west of the shire, as is Cr Anderson. But Cr Richard Doolan from Rodinga Ward, at the eastern end, and Cr Barry Abbott from Ljirapinta Ward in the middle, both raised their hands to back his nomination. There was no dissent.
Taking his seat to chair the meeting, Cr Anderson thanked the councillors for "having confidence" in him, adding simply, "We'll work together."
It was a quiet victory for the shire leader (pictured at left in his habitual cap) who in his first term had to weather protracted media controversy over his past as well as an outcry over a proposed contract out-sourcing a shire function to a firm in India.
Discussion during the meeting showed councillors to be thinking beyond their own patch. In deciding on where to hold their meetings over the coming 12 months (yesterday's was in Alice Springs), Cr Barry Abbott said this should be discussed with the communities. Cr Anderson supported him as did Cr Kenny, saying she was keen to see council go to places "that might need us out there to talk to the people".
Cr Braydon Williams (Ljirapinta Ward) suggested Areyonga (also known as Utju), as they are experiencing "big problems". Everyone agreed, so the June meeting will be held there. A later meeting may be held at Imanpa where improvements are expected following the appointment of Joe Rawson, formerly a councillor, as shire services coordinator for the community.
Councillors also supported CEO Diane Hood's proposed shire-wide leadership program for young women aged 18 to 25 – "the hardest to engage" but the group representing "the greatest opportunity to close the gap". KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: The new MacDonnell Shire Council in the shire meeting room yesterday, from left, Marlene Abbott, Selina Kulitja, Irene Nangala, Greg Sharman, Roxanne Kenny (deputy president), Barry Abbott, Sid Anderson (president), Braydon Williams, Richard Doolan, Lance Abbott, Jacob Hoosan. The council still has one vacancy in the Rodinga Ward.
The new rule prohibiting shire employees from standing for election to the shire council will have a big impact in MacDonnell Shire, with at least five of the 12 councillors opting to stay in their jobs and not run again in the March poll.
In the Rodinga Ward – covering the communities of Amoonguna, Santa Teresa, Titjikala and Finke – this is the case for all four councillors.
The rule seems like a 'no brainer' if you think about conflict of interest issues, but as ever, conditions in remote communities put a different slant on things.
Councillor Joe Rawson lives at Titjikala. He works as an essential services officer (ESO), and will not run again. The rule will "put a big hole in the Rodinga Ward", he said. Does he think other candidates will come forward in the ward?
"It comes down to employment – 99% of employment comes through MacDonnell Shire. To try to get others to nominate who are not on the MacDonnell Shire payroll is very hard ... if they don't have motor vehicles, the shire won't supply motor vehicles. You have to maintain your own vehicle to get to and from the meetings.
"We get an allowance – sitting fees, travel allowance every time we travel , but ... if you do a diff, you might get $700 to come to a meeting but it'll end up costing $1400 to fix the diff." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, from top: Councillors Joe Rawson and Roxanne Kenny – he will not stand again but she will.