The failure of government decision making has had a huge impact on Alice Springs, writes STEVE STRIKE, a prominent photographer in The Centre for 30 years. The place is run largely by newcomers with very little NT experience or history here, he claims in a guest comment piece. Yet he says: "There is no place on earth I love more than Alice."
Big projects are destablising in the short term and have minimal impact in the long term, says economist.
"It's that Territory mentality: if it's a big thing with lots of cranes, then it's really good for the economy. But it's about as good for the economy as two high schools in the long run."
Economist Rolf Gerritsen, research director at the Alice Springs campus of Charles Darwin University, is talking about the $20 billion INPEX gas project and its impact on the Territory economy. The Alice Springs News Online asked him whether it is the "game changer" from which "all Territorians" will "ultimately benefit" as Chief Minister Paul Henderson would have us believe. Professor Gerritsen pours cold water on that idea: "It's the way we see economic development. We don't see the university here, for example, employing an extra two people as economic development, but it is. They generate demand in the local community, a more sustainable kind of demand than these big projects." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Ross Engineering workshop in Alice Springs. Recruiting staff, already a nightmare in Alice Springs, will become even more difficult when INPEX starts competing for skilled workers. That's the view of Neil Ross, from Ross Engineering. On the other hand, the giant project – if it gets its final approval – may offer business opportunities for firms in The Centre, the huge distance from Darwin notwithstanding.
A Darwin business has set up a fly-in, fly-out operation in Alice Springs, according to industry sources.
Quality Plumbing & Building Contractors has put dongas on an industrial block corner Smith and Priest Streets apparently to accommodate staff flying in from Darwin.
It appears the dwellings are in conflict with the zoning – General Industry – of the 5000 square meter block, and no planning and building applications have been made so far.
The owner of the business, Stavros Kantros, declined to comment.
Earlier this year the company won a $4.4m contract from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Regional Services to carry out repairs and maintenance of Territory Housing dwellings for 12 months.
The Alice Springs company previously doing that work has laid off staff.
Alice Springs based electrician Steve Brown, who had sub-contracted to the previous operator, says he made an approach to the Darwin firm, which was rejected, and Mr Kantros refused to take his calls.
Meanwhile Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, has announced the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia would inquire into and report on the use of "fly-in fly-out" and "drive-in drive-out" workforce practices in regional Australia. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photos above and below: Apparently unauthorized dongas on the industrial block.