It’s that time of the year when the Alice Springs News Online, over Christmas and New Year, brings you opinion pieces from locals from all walks of life, reflections on all that’s good (and not so good) in our region.
UPDATE December 5. Statement from Chief Minister Adam Giles on fracking report.
The NT Government to release its mandatory rehabilitation legislation for public consultation prior to the next Parliamentary sittings in mid-May, writes Priscilla Collins, CEO of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT.
Anderson joins Country Liberals, will target shires, growth towns, commercial development, 'separatism' in education
MacDonnell MLA Alison Anderson says the failure of the super shires,
fixing the "appalling" SIHIP housing program, reforming "pretend"
education and training and creating meaningful economic development
strategies in the bush will be among her main objectives.
Ms Anderson, who started her parliamentary career as a Labor Party
member and became an Independent in 2009, last night joined the Country
Liberals. This puts the numbers in the House at 12 – 12, with Gerry Wood
holding the balance of power.
She says there have been "no deals whatsoever" to entice her into the conservative party, such as the offer of a ministry.
Ms Anderson says: "The shires are a mess. They are too top heavy, too
much money goes into the hierarchy while services on the ground are
She says repairs and maintenance to bush homes carried out under
SIHIP is "absolutely appalling. She's had complaints from communities
including Santa Teresa, Haasts Bluff, Papunya and Docker River.
"Repair crews were meant to have come back in June but still haven't.
The money goes to consultancies and layers upon layers of bureaucracy."
Ms Anderson says the "separatism" in education must stop. She says
even as a Labor Member she had admired the education policies of
Opposition Leader Terry Mills.
"There should be one set of policies, not a pretend education and
training system in the bush. We've got training for the sake of
training. Some people have 20 or 30 certificates [but no opportunity of
She says the economic development efforts of the Government are a sham.
Consultation consists of getting wish lists from people, so the Government can tick boxes, but there's seldom any follow-up.
The growth towns – Hermannsburg and Papunya in her electorate – are concepts without substance.
People aren't necessarily happy to have a central service hub,
although Ms Anderson concedes that she was the Labor Minister introducing the hub and spokes model of the growth towns.
She says there should be specific commercial proposals based on
research of the available assets, markets and the preferences of the
locals. She says Hermannsburg has some obvious opportunities –
tourism attracted by the town's history, Palm Valley nearby, and the
proximity to Alice Springs.
The options for Papunya are not as clear, and "we will do a proper
talking session [about] where we want to go". A cultural museum and a
visitor complex at the back of ranges near the town may be some options.
Have the Country Liberals done that sort of planning in the past, so as to have a strategy in place?
No, says Ms Anderson, but a start on focussed economic planning will begin this year.
Ms Anderson is pictured with MLA for Braitling Adam Giles.
Meanwhile Mr Mills says Ms Anderson’s decision to join the Country
Liberals "is simply reflecting the wishes of the people of MacDonnell,
who’ve told her they want to get rid of Labor”.
Ms Anderson’s application will be discussed at a branch meeting in Alice Springs tonight.
Photo: Ms Anderson last summer with Country Liberals MLA for Braitling Adam Giles. From the Alice Springs News archive.
[See "full story" for comment from the Leader of Government Business, Chris Burns.]
The live cattle export industry has a lower mortality rate on its
ships than P&O cruises, says Shadow Business Minister, David
Calling on the Chief Minister to push for a fighting fund promoting
the industry "down south", he says the live export and the pastoral
industries "should be a source of national pride.
“Unfortunately, as a result of gutless Labor governments in Canberra
and Darwin and manipulative animal welfare activists, the industry in
northern Australia is on its knees.”
Mr Tollner says: “Cattle ships are sophisticated feed lots which keep
animals healthy en-route to overseas markets, there are nutritionists
on the ground in Indonesia and the industry supports the livelihoods of
thousands of Australian businesses and families.
“Southern Australians need to understand the strengths of the industry to protect it from animal rights extremists."
• Shadow Minister for Transport Adam Giles (pictured) yesterday re-stated the Country Liberals commitment to open speed limits.
He says they were removed in 2007 by the current Labor Government after undertaking a road safety review.
“That review found that tourists, young drivers and Indigenous Territorians were over represented in the Territory’s road toll.
“The review also identified drink driving and not wearing seat belts as the two main contributing factors.
“Speed was never isolated as the sole cause of the majority of accidents.
“Official road toll figures in 2006 were 44. Following the removal of open speed limits the toll increased to 57 and then 75.
“Last year it was 50, higher still than when speed limits were removed."
• Shadow Treasurer John Elferink says under Labor, the Territory’s
net debt has blown out to $6.7billion, including liabilities. A dollar
coin weighs 9 grams, is 25mm in diameter and 3mm thick. There are 111
dollar coins in a kilo, 111,111 in a tonne.
He says the Territory’s debt takes on mind-boggling proportions when considering:
- It would take $2.2million to fill a 20 tonne road train trailer and $6.7million to fill a three trailer road train.
- It would take 1000 road trains – extending about 50km – to haul the Territory’s debt plus liabilities.
- A $1 coin covers an area of about 500mm square and it would take $2million to fill 1km square.
- Darwin’s area is 112km square. Placing all our dollar coins within Darwin’s footprint would make a stack 90cm high.
- Stacked on the Parliament House footprint, which is 12,900 metres
square, the Territory’s debt with liabilities would make a stack 7.8km
- Joined end to end, the $6.8billion debt with liabilities in dollar
coins would stretch 167,500km – over four times around the world.
- Under Labor, the Territory has accumulated a mountain of debt –
approximately $29,000 for every man woman and child and $56,000 per
Says Mr Elferink: "The Labor Government is addicted to spending – and Territory taxpayers are paying."
With the funeral of a nephew who took his own life fresh in her mind,
MLA Alison Anderson in last night's Legislative Assembly debates asked
for a breakdown of statistics on suicide in the Northern Territory. She
wants to see what the picture is in urban, rural and remote settings,
suspecting that, from her experience, young people in remote communities
are more vulnerable.
The nephew buried last week in Mutitjulu was the second in Ms
Anderson's family to suicide this winter. The second young man took his
life in a suburban street of Alice Springs. He was buried in
Hermannsburg on the same day as his father, who Ms Anderson says died
from alcoholism. PICTURE ABOVE: MLA Alison
Anderson at a rally this year outside Parliament during its sittings in
Alice Springs. By her side is Councillor Mildred Inkamala (pink shirt)
of the MacDonnell Shire Council. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Beyond Blue - www.beyondblue.org.au
Reach Out - www.reachout.com.au