ABOVE: Room half full or half empty – the small turn-out for the mayoral Q&A suggests the town's flagging interest in all the talk. A few more than shown did arrive. Councillor candidate Matthew Campbell in the front row is not sleeping – in fact he was the first to arrive – we just caught him during a blink. BELOW RIGHT: Mayor Ryan and challengers (from left) Steve Brown, Eli Melky, Samih Habib Bitar, Dave Douglas.
Alice seems to be getting sick of talking. Last night's mayoral candidate question & answer session was a lacklustre affair and poorly attended. If candidates' family and friends, councillor candidates and media had been removed, the Andy McNeill Room would have been three-quarters empty.
The five candidates outlined their campaign message with no surprises. Steve Brown, candidate for mayor and councillor, was the one to come closest to making an speech intended to inspire, nominating the town's biggest single issue as "social inclusion" – a term usually coming from those who would count themselves as his opponents .
To offer residents of remote communities and town camps a way into our community is the "burning issue" for Alice Springs, he said.
Mayor Damien Ryan in his five minutes said creating community events makes the community more "inclusive", and that council is not given enough credit for its program of events. In its next term council should work on having more, he said. In collaboration with Indigenous elders they could include a biennial desert festival, which could be taken to world tourism markets.
The biggest round of applause for the night was reserved for Kate McMasters, a teacher and 5th generation Territorian, speaking from the floor. She said teachers must deal with negative behaviour in the classroom quickly and firmly, but their focus remains on positive behaviour, building it up with endless feedback. She urged candidates in tackling the issues to start with positive as "it's poisonous out there at the moment". KIERAN FINNANE reports on the mayoral candidates' Q & A.