Development Consent Authority says no. Will Minister say yes? A new application? Photo: Former owner of the rural block Bob Kessing, at its northern end, looking into Emily Valley, 10 years ago. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Is Kilgariff above or below the Q100 flood level? The Town Council says it is below. The NT Government says it is above. Q100 means the level of flooding likely to occur once in 100 years. The council has wiped its hands of it, yet it is a pet project of Chief Minister Adam Giles. Image: The Kilgariff land and St Mary's Creek running through it. The road on the left is the South Stuart Highway. The road at the bottom is Colonel Rose Drive. The intersection is the south-western corner of the proposed suburb. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
A spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said this afternoon she understands the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs is currently looking into issues surrounding the use Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) funds by a company linked to the Lhere Artepe native title organisation.
The spokesperson said this was to "ensure that all ABA funds have been used appropriately.
"Grants from the ABA are made to support projects which benefit Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.”
The Alice Springs News on Tuesday reported it had obtained an email exchange revealing a bitter dispute about the purchase of shares in a company.
The exchange casts more light on the deal by an affiliate of Lhere Artepe. However, the main players are keeping mum on what appears to be an unfolding scandal.
The company, CDE Civil, collapsed soon after the majority shareholding was bought by Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
While Lhere Artepe remains tight-lipped about the Mt Johns development, an industry source says the subdivision is "at practical completion now".
It is entering the phase when service authorities – mostly the Power and Water Corporation and the Town Council – are carrying out final testing.
The source says the services such as power, water, sewage, roads and drains are ultimately taken over by these authorities who then guarantee their adequacy.
Once they are ticked off titles can be issued.
The source says it is normal for some deficiencies to be discovered in this process: this was the case with Stirling Heights and the Golf Course Estate, for example. These deficiencies are fixed prior to the issue of titles.
LAE Nominees Pty Ltd – an entity linked to the native title organisation Lhere Artepe – is the majority shareholder in the now defunct CDE Civil Pty Ltd, as well as the holder of the development lease, granted by the government, at Mt Johns Valley. They are two separate entities.
Meanwhile the CDE Civil website, alive earlier this week, comes up with the message "account suspended".
POSTING WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
CDE Civil Pty Ltd, which is linked to the Native Title organisation Lhere Artepe, owed $2.5m to 56 creditors when it was put into liquidation on Friday last week. Alice Springs News Online learned this from a reliable source today. The company was involved in the still unfinished Mt Johns residential estate which followed a native title deal between the NT Government and Lhere Artepe. According to our source, the list of creditors is headed by the Tax Department ($1.6m), a pipe laying company, a plumber and an electrician. A local clinic is owed $200.
ABOVE: The $10m headworks for the Kilgariff suburb well under way but no word yet on the development deal.
The NT Government is spending $10m on headworks for the new suburb of Kilgariff, but still hasn't made up its mind – or won't tell – how the 1200 block project will be developed.
The usual process for opening up public land for private housing is for the government to call tenders. The winner then puts in the internal services – roads, water, power, sewage, and so on, in accordance with government specifications.
The best guess for this development cost per block is $60,000.
The developer then gets to sell the blocks for whatever he likes – the going rate till recently has been $300,000.
A nice little earner, but no great help for the – at least then – drastic land shortage and the skyrocketing prices.
Robyn Lambley, when successfully campaigning for the seat of Araluen last September, was asked in an interview with the Alice Springs News whether the Kilgariff land should be sold for the development cost.
Ms Lambley said: "That could be an option. Perhaps somewhere in the middle, between market value and the cost of development, is a good place to negotiate."
The News asked: If it’s somewhere in the middle, who would get the profit which would still be around $100,000 a block?
Ms Lambley said: "It would go into the government coffers. You could argue that the profit could be used for interest free loans to people breaking into the first home owners’ market. That would be a neat little package, really."
No matter how vital this debate is for the community, it's not an issue that Karl Hampton, the Minister for Central Australia, will engage in.
The News has been seeking an interview with Mr Hampton since May – no luck.
We caught up with him at the Alice Festival launch last week ...