Tangentyere Council needs to come clean with the taxpayer about how it spends the $43m a year it gets from the public purse, says NT Minister for Indigenous Advancement, Alison Anderson (at left). She says the arganisation was previously responsible for all or most of the town's up to 19 camps, but is is now looking after fewer than half of them; is failing to stem the "rivers of grog" despite the camps' "dry" status, is incapable of curbing extreme violence; and is treated by the Shaw family as its private "dynasty". ERWIN CHLANDA reports.PHOTOS: Garbage in Charles Creek in 2010. The same location on Wednesday this week, after Ingkerreke has taken over from Tangentyere clean-up and parks maintenance functions.
Under the no-holds-barred Mayor Joy Baluch, the Port Augusta council drives the local state and federal agencies, not the other way round. They are held to account in monthly meetings. This has gone a long way towards a solution of what was a near-terminal anti-social behavior and alcohol crisis. Could it be the template for the councillors and Mayor taking the reins in Alice Springs on Monday? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
"Port Augusta is alcohol free. You cannot drink in a public square. If you want to drink you go home, to a pub or a club. You will not drink in the streets and you will not sit on the beach and consume alcohol.
"And you will not create havoc and unsocial behaviour. You piss off back to Alice Springs to the Todd River. That's where you go because in Port Augusta, City Council rules and regulations must be complied with."
What about people who contravene that regulation?
"They are dealt with appropriately, are put on a bus and sent somewhere else."
Who puts them on the bus?
"Our Safety Officer does."
And that person plays a very major role in the town.
Nancy Joy Baluch – her friends call her Joy – doesn't mince words. She has served as the Mayor of Port Augusta from 1981 to 1993 and from 1995 till now. That she's battling cancer wasn't at all evident in our telephone conversation yesterday.
"In 1981 we had a town square. It would have drunken whites, drunken blacks, fornicating in public, in the presence of tourist buses," she says.
"Our tourist trade went down to zero. Port Augusta became a place not to be seen in.
"Today we are a tourist destination. We have turned our image around.
"People who lived here some 30 years ago, are just overwhelmed by the transformation."
But don't expect results overnight, says the feisty Mayor.
PHOTOS: Top – Once a dirty recess, a haven for vagrants and drinkers, the beach and foreshore are now the town's playground. Above right – Mayor Baluch. Photos courtesy Port Augusta City Council (the Mayor) and The Transcontinental Port Augusta (aerial shot).
The jury is still out in the debate whether the environment will be the winner in the introduction of the new container deposit scheme.
The Alice Springs Town Council's cans and bottles buy-back initiative makes way next week for the government mandated container deposit scheme which started on January 3.
At the moment the council pays 5c for any can or bottle people drop off at the council's depot, although some conditions apply.
The new scheme, paying 10c per item, doesn't cover containers sold before January 3 nor does it accept wine and spirit bottles.
But Stewart Pritchard, the owner of the depot set up for the new scheme, says the range of containers is greater than the council's scheme.
He estimates that the bottles not covered by it amount to just 5% of the container volume. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Tony Satour delivering empties to the council recycling scheme closing next week: Many glass bottles will not attract a refund under the NT Government mandated scheme.
Sir – Recently we received a rates notice from the MacDonnell Shire for the sum of $788.69 and accompanying it was the statement that if we didn’t pay by a certain date we would be charged interest at 17% per annum, calculated daily. Lyn, my wife, was so annoyed she rang the number on the invoice to see what services the Shire were going to provide us. A man answered, the accent was Indian. Was he based in India?
He told Lyn we would receive street lighting! Obviously the man had a script to follow and was using the spin that we hear often from the Northern Territory Government. Minister McCarthy then tells us that the government is working to make the shires more empowering. How? In the past three years we have never set eyes upon one single MacDonnell Shire employee in our neck of the woods. We generate our own electricity, empty our own bins, take care of the garbage dump, generate our own power, supply our own lighting, grade our own roads and pump our own water – all at an extremely high cost. We, the people of the bush who are self-sufficient should not be paying into this Clayton, obviously revenue raising rate fund. The hub towns too are suffering hardship.
Complaints can be heard every day from people who can barely survive, let alone pay the exorbitant rates. Empowering the people – I don’t think so. Ian Conway Kings Creek Station
ED - The Alice Springs News Online has asked the MacDonnell Shire for a comment.