Relationship between Mayor Ryan and Alds Melky and Habib Bitar has become unworkable
The final meeting of the 11th Alice Springs Town Council started with fine sentiments and a few tears but descended into a brawl before the night was out.
The aldermen not seeking re-election – Murray Stewart, Sandy Taylor and John Rawnsley (Jane Clark was absent) – were presented with framed certificates acknowledging their service by Mayor Damien Ryan.
They all spoke, with undoubted sincerity, about the privilege and honour of the role and Ald Taylor cried, as she did on the day of her investiture four years ago.
The meeting then proceeded fairly calmly, often even blandly, until questions without notice, when Ald Rawnsley demanded of Ald Samih Habib Bitar an apology for what he considered a "highly offensive" remark.
Ald Habib Bitar, who is seeking re-election and also running for mayor, had apparently compared council's approach to graffiti removal (requiring the property owner to act, with penalty for non-compliance) to a measure of Adolf Hitler's Germany.
The ensuing slanging match over-shadowed the more worthwhile initiative of Ald Rawnsley that followed: a motion to call on both the NT and Australian governments to provide more policing resources to Alice Springs "on a sustainable basis", that was carried unanimously. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
PICTURED clockwise from top right: Aldermen John Rawnsley, Samih Habib Bitar and Sandy Taylor.