Cattlemen call for a half a billion dollars plus upgrading of Territory roads, are looking for wash down bays to combat weeds, clearer rules about access for fracking and a faster internet. JULIUS DENNIS checks out the rural producers' election wish list.
Federal program will increase flood immunity and boost safety and efficiency through sealing, realigning routes, building bridges and widening roads, writes Nigel Scullion (pictured) Senator for the Northern Territory.
Improvements of road, rail and natural gas infrastructure in Central Australia are prominent in the final report of the Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia tabled by MHR Warren Entsch (pictured) in Federal Parliament yesterday, but under the headings Water Capture and Storage Infrastructure, Aquifer Management and Agricultural Development Schemes, The Centre doesn't rate a mention. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The Giles government hanging by a thread and the town being far from assertive, northern development is off to a hesitant start. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Alice Mayor Damien Ryan (left) and Chief Minister Adam Giles at Friday's information session in Alice Springs.
A return of public sector investment in tourism to at least 2008/09 levels, marketing better suited to new realities, more money for parks and roads, a resolute push for a second airline, coordination of special events, an industry task force to drive a "whole of government" approach to its issues and a minister "who can devote significant time and energy" to these tasks: It's all on a wish list presented to the new government by Tourism Central Australia. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Pictured are chairman Jeff Huyben with board member and acting general manager Laurelle Halford.
ABOVE: 4WD tourists arrive at Palm Valley. RIGHT: Magnificent thick vegetation dominated by the unique Red Cabbage Palms.
With major changes in tourist promotion imminent under the new government, will places like Gosse Bluff and Palm Valley (above) finally get their place in the sun and become drivers of Alice Springs' flagging tourism industry? ERWIN CHLANDA went for a trip into a paradise created millions of years ago.
Amidst the crusty truckies at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion in Alice Springs last week was one quite unlike the rest: she is a petite blonde driving the rig of the year, a 50 tonne Drake low loader pulled by a 550 horsepower Western Star – total value more than half a million dollars.
Perhaps the only hint there may be a woman driver behind the wheel is the prime mover's colour: pink.
Julie Gavin transports earthmoving and mining equipment all around Australia.
Does she know what the future will hold for the industry she loves? "Good question. What's next week's lotto numbers, Erwin?" ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Central Australia is getting $40m in new capital works spending in the Territory's 2012-13 Budget.
This is not counting re-votes from previous Budgets.
The Centre's slice is just 3% of what Treasurer Delia Lawrie describes as "a huge $1.3 billion infrastructure investment across the emergency services, education, health, roads, corrections and housing sectors".
A quarter – $10m – of Central Australia's new allocations will be spent on the Alice Springs Correctional Centre (at left, Google Earth), $5m on the Alice hospital and $5m on the Mereenie road, the Red Centre Way.
Meanwhile the Opposition says Territorians will pay in excess of $1b in interest repayments "as a result of the Labor Government’s failure to reign in debt".
Peter Solly, General Manager Tourism Central Australia, says the Budget "recognised the importance of providing additional funding to the tourism sector to stimulate demand and support the industry in response to the Global Financial Crisis [but] the real value of base funding to the tourism sector has not kept up with inflation".
• 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)