The ICAC finds the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics let a $2m tender to demolish the Anzac Hill High School despite a report that it was “good condition” with “no sign of deterioration in any of the external walls, floors, pylons, or concrete stairs”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
There are 250 public housing dwellings in the NT that would cost $100,000 each to fix up.
Housing Minister Peter Chandler's first departmental briefing, days after the Country Liberals' election victory in August last year, revealed that two-thirds of the Repair and Maintenance budget had been spent in the financial year's first two months.
In Alice Springs 91 dwellings are currently empty. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The Gillard Government doesn’t even have a management plan for a cattle property turned carbon farm, Henbury Station, south of Alice Springs, it ploughed more than $9 million of taxpayer funds into back in 2011, writes Fiona Nash, Nationals Deputy Senate Leader.
The serious issues raised in yesterday's breaking news report about Congress are not new. The leaked letter was dated April 23, 2012. Two months later, what has the Congress Board and / or the Australian and NT Governments done?
Specific questions put by the Alice Springs News Online to the Congress Board President Helen Kantawara have gone unanswered today. Ms Kantawara's response to our report yesterday failed to address many of the concerns raised.
The News asked her today, in particular, what action the Board is taking about the apparently acknowledged inappropriate use of a corporate credit card by Congress CEO Stephanie Bell (pictured), to which there was no reference in Ms Kantawara's response.
The News also contacted Warren Snowdon, MHR for Lingiari and Minister for Indigenous, Rural and Regional Health, nominated by the Department of Health and Ageing as the Australian Government person for the News to seek comment from. Total silence, in keeping with his recent treatment of other legitimate enquiries by the News.
Meanwhile, the NT Department of Justice says they are enquiring to matters raised about the changes to Congress' constitution.
The volatile debate on alcohol reform turns largely on the volume of consumption and how various measures affect it.
Trouble is, the stats are seen to present an incomplete picture as they do not capture the apparently growing online and mail-order purchases that come to the consumer direct from interstate.
Said Deputy Mayor Brendan Heenan during the recent local government election campaign: "There are statistics that less alcohol is being sold now. I don’t believe them. Go to the post office and watch how much alcohol comes in, pallets and pallets of mail orders from south now, tonnes of the stuff, every day."
The Alice Springs News Online requested information from the NT Justice Department at about noon yesterday. It has not yet been provided. When it comes to hand we will update this report.
Blair McFarland, manager of CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link Up Service) which campaigns strongly on substance abuse issues , says so far as he knows, figures about alcohol obtained from interstate by mail order and online are not included in the NT consumption statistics, which – again, so far as he knows – represent wholesale trade in the NT.
Mr McFarland says, relying on figures interstate, the online and mail order proportion is around one percent of the total.
Prominent alcohol activist and medical doctor, John Boffa says: "The short answer is that only some of the sales are included when the wine company or other company is registered in the NT.
"[The government does] not have a way of monitoring all of the internet sales." ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The yard of the Alice Springs post office which, some claim, transports large quantities of alcohol not accounted for in NT consumption statistics.
UPDATE May 10, 12:40pm: The NT Department of Justice has now provided a partial response to questions we asked yesterday.
They were: Does the department have figures of alcohol obtained via mail order or online, and delivered via Post Australia?
If you do please supply them to me.
Are mail order or online purchases of alcohol from interstate and delivered to the buyer direct captured in the NTG stats made public?
Answer: DoJ is aware of small amounts of alcohol being purchased over the Internet. These amounts are insignificant in comparison to the 2.73 million litres of pure alcohol sold in 2010.
Online retailers can use the Banned Drinkers Register (BRD) online and since its launch on 26 March, three interstate licensees have adopted the system with the first sale recorded on 8 May 2012.
Follow-up questions to the department: That clearly means that the government does not know the quantities and they are not reflected in the NT alcohol statistics; is that so? How many mail order and online retailers from interstate are supplying the NT?
UPDATE May 10, 4:20pm:
The department replies: Whilst we don’t know specific quantities, from discussions with cartage agents, especially in Alice Springs, quality bottled wine is being purchased in very low quantities in comparison to what is sold in the Territory.
The majority of online liquor sellers don’t sell into the NT. Coles and Woolworths despatch their online liquor sale products from the NT and so already use the BDR. In developing the BDR online, we wrote to 10 organisations that offer online liquor sales into the Territory – including Coles and Woolworths, letting them know that the BDR was available online.
To get an idea of what's ahead of us in this election year it's instructive to read the final words spoken by government front bencher Chris Burns in the NT Parliament before the Christmas break.
Producing his own brand of Festive Season cheer, Labor politician Dr Burns was having a shot at Alison Anderson in the adjournment debate of the last Sittings of 2011.
That's not surprising, because the colorful Member for MacDonnell had recently joined the Country Liberal Opposition, after having been an Independent, which was after having been a party colleague of Dr Burns'.
What is remarkable about his sniping is that his ammunition consisted mostly of alleged past transgressions by Ms Anderson which, while she was a Labor Member, his party either ignored or said Ms Anderson was not guilty of. And that was from then Chief Minister Clare Martin down.
So Dr Burns engaged in some robust mental gymnastics to explain his change of heart.
It's all about the book by Melbourne journalist Russell Skelton, King Brown Country, The Betrayal of Papunya. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PICTURE: Ms Anderson and her brother, Sid, now the president of the MacDonnell Shire. Different takes on their role as power brokers in Papunya shape up as election fodder.