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.
"When we're all alone 'cause our family's gone drinking, we get bored 'cause there's nothing to do.
"We're not excited about tomorrow, every day's the same, we got to find a new way, a new direction to break the cycle."
Their names are (from left) Danielle Breaden, Katrina Drover and Shania Austin, aged 14, 13 and 11 years; they live at Amoonguna, some 20 kms south of Alice and part of MacDonnell Shire; and these are the lyrics of a song they wrote and performed as part of the "Stay Strong, Live Long" project conducted by the shire council's youth development team.
So, how do the girls think the cycle will be broken? Not by "going into town and roaming around, looking for some trouble". They say they've got to "think about the future, got to work and stay at school, got to make a change". – Kieran Finnane.
UPDATE July 30, 2012: See the fruits of this project for yourself.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.