A clandestine process has plunged the Town Council into a state of near dysfunction, and the nine elected members, far from representing the town in an atmosphere of collaboration and openness, are in the shadows of distrust and fear of financially crippling litigation. Yet the Minister responsible for local government, Gerry McCarthy (pictured), is not available to give answers. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Mr McCarthy with a public housing tenant during a media event on September 12 when he neither ruled out nor confirmed that the NT Government would compulsorily acquire Anzac Oval.
Missing portfolio: No, the new government hasn't overlooked local government. They chopped the department on purpose. PHOTO: Mr McCarthy and Mayor Ryan addressing the LGANT meeting this morning. ERWIN CLANDA reports.
• 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. KIERANFINNANE reports.
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)