Thursday, August 13, 2020

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

Tags Central Desert Shire

Tag: Central Desert Shire

Desert council money push leaves questions open

p2163-Yuendumu-mediation-SM

 

Go and get funded for getting on with one-another. That's the objective. And the subtext: If the public purse doesn't cough, up we'll be costing it a great deal more. ERWIN CHLANDA reports on a campaign by the Central Desert Regional Council for funding the Yuendumu Mediation and Justice Program (members pictured).

 

Land lease payments – nice little sit-down earner

An initiative by the Howard government in 2006 to stimulate commercial activity, private enterprise style, by Aboriginal people on their land has been turned into yet another source of sit-down money. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The Central Desert Shire office in Yuendumu: a public asset for which lease payments will need to be made.

Public housing rents in remote areas

 

 

A recent Australian Bureau of Statistics presentation to the Alice Springs Town Council recently showed that the median weekly rent in MacDonnell Shire is $25, and in Central Desert Shire, $20. The Alice Springs News Online asked Territory Housing to confirm this, and asked about the maximum and minimum rents for public housing in the shires. Andrew Kirkman, Executive Director for Remote Housing NT explains.

Doing a better job of managing a shoe-string budget

MacDonnell Shire has already started work on responding to the recently released Review of Councils' Financial Sustainability.

A financial audit committee has been established, says CEO Diane Hood (pictured left), to sort out the weaknesses in the council's financial management. The committee is meeting monthly, looking at how their income and expenditure statements are stacking up against the budget, and at their cash flow position.

If a service has been started, yet the grant funding for it has not been received, council can respond in a timely fashion, ie remind the funding body that it needs to pay up!

Ms Hood says two things in particular have contributed to the inconsistencies in council's financial records pointed out by the review. One is that the shires are only four years old and the "clean-up" of the transfer of assets from the old community councils has still not been finalised. Another is that council was not doing a good job in allocating costs to the specific service delivered. Doing this properly allows managers to see that one service is not "cross-subsidising" another, to set priorities and to be sure they are not over-spending. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Shires fill final vacancies

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks misses out

 

Former president of Barkly Shire and prominent opponent of the Federal Intervention, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, has lost to Eileen Bonney and Timothy Jakara Price in the supplementary election for the Alyawarr Ward in Barkly Shire. Mrs Kunoth-Monks did not stand for the general election but threw her hat in the ring when not enough candidates came forward to fill the vacancies in Alyawarr Ward.

Participation in the vote was low – 25%

In the Central Desert Shire's Anmatjere Ward James Glenn (who sat on the first shire council), Marlene Tilmouth and Benedy Bird have been elected. Former councillor Dianne Martin, who stood and lost in the Southern Tanami Ward and then stood again in the supplementary election for this neighbouring ward, missed out.

Participation was at 34%.

In MacDonnell Shire's Rodinga Ward Louise Cavanagh won convincingly over her sole rival, Rosalie Riley, 76.6% to 23.4%.

Participation was at 32.6%.

Shire vacancies set to be filled

All vacancies will be filled on shire councils, with enough nominations coming in by today's deadline. In fact in Central Desert, MacDonnell and Barkly Shires supplementary elections will have to be held as there are now more nominations than vacancies.

In the Anmatjere Ward of Central Desert Shire four people have put up their hands for three seats. They include two former councillors, James Glenn and Dianne Martin. Mrs Martin stood in Southern Tanami Ward, where she lives, but missed out there. You have to live within the shire to stand, but not necessarily within the ward. Southern Tanami is adjacent to Anmatjere.

The other two nominees for Anmatjere Ward are Marlene Tilmouth and Benedy Bird.

In MacDonnell Shire's Rodinga Ward, where there is one vacancy, Rosalie Riley and Louise Cavanagh have nominated.

In Barkly Shire, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, its former president, did not stand March 24, but has now nominated for a councillor position in the shire's Alyawarr Ward. There are two vacancies and four nominations. The others are Timothy Jakara Price, Leslie Morton and Eileen Bonney.

 

Pictured: Candidates in the Anmatjere Ward supplementary election: Dianne Martin (left) and James Glenn. Both served as councillors during the first Central Desert Shire Council.

Government debt drag on shire finances

Take a look at the Central Desert Shire's "Accounts receivable" summary and you begin to get a picture of the complexity of shire operations.  Their debtors range from small local businesses, a plethora of Aboriginal organisations and other NGOs to government departments. Most of it is quite in order, within the normal 30 day turnaround for accounts. But over $500,000 has been owed the shire for more than 90 days and a big swag of this is owed by Territory Housing. As at February 29 the amount was $403,992.06.

Some of that has since been paid. However invoices for over $300,000, relating to work done in 2010-11, are still being verified, according to a statement from the department.

At the last council meeting  CEO Roydon Robertson told councillors that a number of shire CEOs had met with the head of the department to try to resolve their "massive concerns", as a result of which a working party was being formed.

This has apparently helped. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

Vast geographic scale dwarfs shire budgets


• Just $1.5 million over 5 years for roads maintenance across 280,000 sqkm 

• Council can enact by-laws but does not have the resources to enforce them

• Shire office in 'Growth Town' really a tin shed 

 

A reduced Central Desert Shire Council got down to business yesterday at its first ordinary meeting since the local government elections. The council is missing three members from the Anmatjere Ward but supported this ward's sole councillor, Adrian Dixon, to become the new shire president. Former president Norbert Patrick from Lajamanu declined nomination for the top job but accepted the deputy president role.

Cr Dixon told the Alice Springs News Online that he is confident candidates will come forward to fill the vacancies in his ward. It appears there was confusion at the last minute over nominations.

While Cr Spencer had been present at earlier preparatory meetings of the council this week, he was absent without an apology yesterday.

During the meeting, held at the Alice Springs head office, shire CEO Roydon Robertson poured cold water on the Country Liberals' approach to the future of the shires, proposing to reduce some to smaller scale regional councils.

"They don't know what they want to do," scoffed Mr Roberston, "they just want to do something to discredit the government."

The government's answer to the problem of vast geographic scale in the shires is to strengthen local boards, as stressed by the department's Robert Kendrick when he addressed councillors after their swearing-in.

There was a fair bit of evidence at the meeting of this structure being an effective way to at least bring issues to the table, where however they constantly confront the problem of limited resources. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

UPDATE: 

Shadow Minister for Indigenous policy Adam Giles says the Country Liberals will not be prescriptive about changes to the shires. He would not be drawn on which shires may be considered to be performing less well than others.

He says the Country Liberals have received complaints about shires from right across the Territory. If elected to government they will look at the performance of the shires and will listen to what people want. There could be changes to some shires or even no change at all.

 

Pictured: The new council, from left, Cr William Johnson, Cr Liz Bird, Cr Robert Robertson, Cr Georgina Wilson, Deputy President Norbert Patrick, Cr April Martin, Cr Louis Schaber, President Adrian Dixon. (Absent, Cr Jacob Spencer)

Victory for the tiny desert community that sparked NT-wide reform

The Territory local government elections, with their new counting system, have delivered for the tiny community of Nyrripi in the Southern Tanami Ward of Central Desert Shire. Nyrripi (at right) now have seat on the council with their local representative, Jacob Spencer. This is a big win for the community as it was from there that the drive for reform of the counting system came.

In 2008 Nyrripi's candidate, Teddy Gibson Jakamarra, won the highest number of first preference votes of any candidate in the ward but failed to get a seat on council. When the community's Local Board realised that the cards were stacked against them because of the exhaustive preferential counting system, they asked the shire to lobby the NT Government about it. The shire councillors listened to a presentation by Dr Will Sanders (ANU and Desert Knowledge CRC, pictured), who showed how the old system favoured large group dominance. Armed with this evidence the shire wrote to Local Government Minister Malarndirri McCarthy requesting the review which ultimately led to Territory-wide reform for the local government electoral system.

The reform also had a definite impact in Alice Springs, says Dr Sanders, reflected in the early election of candidates at either end of the political spectrum: on the 'right', Steve Brown, Eli Melky, Dave Douglas in positions one, two and three, and then on the 'left', the Greens' Jade Kudrenko in position four.

The old system would have favoured the 'centre' candidates earlier. Apart from being well-respected they also had incumbency in their favour, but Liz Martin was not elected till the fifth position, with Brendan Heenan following at seventh behind youthful newcomer Chansey Paech. KIERAN FINNANE  reports.

Give the shires time to prove themselves, say councillors

Councillors of the Central Desert Shire – black and white – say the shire system time needs more time to prove itself. Most of those I spoke to will put their hands up again for election in March, including shire president Norbert Patrick. He says he would accept the leadership role again if asked, but would rather be just an elected member who could give new members the benefit of his experience.

I spoke to the councillors outside the chamber after they had met for the last time before the election. During the meeting shire CEO Roydon Robertson had raised the recent negative comments made about the shires by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, angrily dismissed by the CEO as "another insult". Mr Gooda was reported by the ABC to have called for the shires model to be scrapped, referring to its "total detrimental effect" on communities.

Councillors appeared to be in agreement with the CEO and the sentiments expressed by Kerry Moir, president of the Local Government Association of the NT (LGANT), who was appalled at Mr Gooda making such damaging statements just two months out from the shire elections. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

 

Pictured: Shire president Norbert Patrick and Councillor William Johnson, both of Lajamanu, outside the shire head office in Alice Springs last Friday.

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