A Certificate II in Rural Operations will provide "real training for real employees in real jobs including installing fencing, repairing potholes, operating machinery, maintaining landfills, operating chainsaws, maintaining septic systems and participating in sustainable work practices. The picture shows Kasman Spencer (left) and Geoffrey Wilson repairing a push whipper snipper as part of the "small engines" unit at the Yuendumu training.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The Country Liberals Government is fulfilling an election commitment by introducing a Bill at the next sittings to make changes to the Local Government Act to give people back their voice in local government, writes Alison Anderson (pictured), Minister for Local Government.
It's about the size of Central Europe. Less than 48,000 people live there, half of them in the major centre. Six governments look after it. They do not usefully coordinate their services. Yet each year, measured per-capita, they spend an obscene fortune. They rule from capitals thousands of kilometers away. The two main racial groups are at loggerheads. More than a third of the people are on welfare. Public service is the biggest employer. Of the 1800-odd businesses, 79% are micro or small, and of these, 83% rely on government spending and a transient population. There is no coherent plan for that country's future. What is its name? You guessed it – Central Australia.
But wait, there is hope and no better time than now to develop a vision for how this might be different.
Dr Bruce Walker (pictured) heads up Desert Knowledge Australia remoteFOCUS in Alice Springs which will release a major report on these issues next week. Here is a snapshot. PHOTO AT TOP: Aborigines were a key to the change of government. This is mobile polling station in the Karnte town camp in Alice Springs.
In Alice Springs, which has 14,239 eligible electors on the 2012 roll, there is keen participation in the local government elections on March 24, with five candidates vying for the position of Mayor and 15 for the eight positions of Councillor.
It's different in the bush: In the Central Desert Shire, (2583 electors), the Akityarre and Northern Tanami wards had only as many nominations as vacancies.
In the Anmatjere Ward a supplementary election will be required to fill three remaining vacancies.
In the Southern Tanami Ward an election will be held on March 24, with six candidates for four positions.
In the MacDonnell Shire (3314 electors), the Iyarrka and Luritja Pintubi wards had only as many nominations as vacancies.
In the Rodinga Ward a supplementary election will be required to fill one remaining vacancy.
An election will be held for the Ljirapinta Ward, again with six candidates for four positions.
PHOTO: The last time Alice Springs voted in a town council election was a year ago when Eli Melky was elected alderman in a by-election for one vacancy, contested by seven candidates.
Where will the money come from to pay rent for shire assets on Aboriginal land?
The eight Northern Territory shires are acting in concert on the issue of lease payments for shire facilities on Aboriginal land. The Northern and Central Land Councils' position is that traditional owners are entitled to rent for leases over the various land parcels once the Australian Government's five-year town leases expire in August. The Australian and NT Governments have accepted this, with the NT Government determining that rents should be set at 5-10% of UCV (unimproved capital value).This will amount to a bill of around $3 million annually for the NT, potentially rising to $5 million once all leases are settled. The leases for public housing land are exempt, with 'peppercorn' rents charged "in recognition of the direct benefit for local people", according to Minister for Local Government, Malarndirri McCarthy.
The cash-strapped shires are appalled: already they are struggling to provide a basic level of service to their communities. Don't their services amount to a "direct benefit for local people"? And, with limited operational funding, rates revenue, and budgets patched together from grants and charges to agencies for delivering their programs, where will the money come from?
A meeting on January 24 was attended by representatives of the eight shires, a lawyer from the firm Minter Ellison to advise them, and representatives of the Australian and Territory Governments as well as the Local Government Association of the NT.
The eight shires agreed to five points of a joint approach. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Shire workers learning to undertake maintenance on work plant at the Ti Tree works depot. Photo courtesy Central Desert Shire.
1343 Aboriginal residents in 16 remote communities give their assessment of what the Intervention has achieved and the challenges to come.
The Northern Territory Intervention – "punitive" and a "betrayal of Aboriginal people" as conditions deteriorate even further, as the Stop the Intervention Collective in Sydney (STICS) would have us believe?
Or making some headway, as the responses of 1343 Aboriginal residents surveyed in 16 remote communities suggest?
Believe the STICS media release that paints a picture, without nuance, of devastation and despair?
Or the research results that discern the shades of grey, particularly between small and larger communities, and even discern some light? Your call.
The Community Safety and Wellbeing Research Study was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA, the one responsible, of course, for the Intervention) and was conducted by four social research companies, employing 50 local Indigenous people to work with them. They made three trips to each community between December last year and June this year, systematically asking residents, using a questionnaire, about the changes that have taken place over the last three years, producing quantitative data for statistical analysis. Residents also took part in discussions about their own experiences and priorities in their community, producing qualitative data.
The study summaries the key "very strong" messages from the survey: the majority of people judge that their life has improved over the last three years; young people are the epicentre of many difficult community dynamics; and, small communities are very different to large ones.
Its authors comment that there is an enormous policy challenge to create conditions in which it is more difficult for young people to opt for a ‘party’ lifestyle, and easier to get a job. They also says there is scope for working to understand why larger communities are much more difficult environments in which to achieve positive change, and to fashion policy to address their very particular dynamics. Pictured: Children during lunch break at Ntaria School in 2009. Their hot meal had been provided by a school nutrition program, the likes of which, along with the Basics Card, have meant that more kids over the last three years have been getting more food. Photo from our archive. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
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
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.
Kings Creek Station
ED - The Alice Springs News Online has asked the MacDonnell Shire for a comment.
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.]