Daily monologues and chest beating by the Chief Minister and the Health Minister cannot replace flexible adaptation to the pandemic's rapid changes, nor the obligation to provide information requested in the public interest. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
UPDATE 2pm: Passenger numbers provided by airport manager Dave Batic. A 96.3% drop in May.
There is a strong positive correlation between accountable and transparent government and the sustainability of economic and community development, argues Professor Don Fuller in this Part Two of his series, taking measure of the Gunner Government's performance on that score.
The Territory election is two months away, the COVID-19 shutdown is relaxing, and voters now have to grapple with its impact in the context of the Gunner Government's fiscal chaos. That has resulted in a record debt – so far – of more than $7 billion. Professor DON FULLER is casting a light on these issues.
A supposedly transparent town council, under pressure from the Department of Local Government, drops a proposal to let rate payers have a say on how $528,000 a year, no longer needed for paying off the civic centre, could be spent for the community. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Cr Paterson (left) and Cr Melky.
The Alice Springs Town Council's elected members are split about whether the public should have access to statements by them and their senior staff about "pecuniary and other interests". ERWIN CHLANDA reports
Cr Eli Melky (pictured) loses his bid on pouring out grog – all goes in the dirt if you drink in public – but he strikes a blow for transparency; economic development in the bush gains traction and the council finally gets into the loop on town planning. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
It won’t be for want of trying if Councillor Eli Melky fails to bring more meaningful discussion of council’s finances into the open. Council’s Director of Finance Paul Della had made an effort to have something for this month’s committee meeting to consider in open, two reports in fact, one requiring no action, the other merely for formal endorsement. Cr Melky was not to be bought off so easily. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Current Town Council dealings behind closed doors about the future of the landfill gives new fuel to controversy over business the council is doing "in confidential".
The default position under the law is that all matters should be dealt with in open meeting, except a small number of issues that are defined.
But it seems the public is being shut out for reasons decidedly not provided for under the law. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
PHOTO: Mayor Damien Ryan (second from left) with MLA Alison Anderson and MHR Warren Snowdon (middle) and (from left) Councillors Liz Martin, Brendan Heenan, Geoff Booth and Steve Brown at the construction site of the landfill transfer station.
Corroded well pipes in the Mereenie oil field leaked oil below ground into the Amadeus aquifer which provides the water for Alice Springs, so did a leaking pipeline, and highly saline water was kept in an unlined evaporation pond. These were issues raised by an NT Government water expert, John Childs, from about 2001 and still lack credible answers. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Google earth picture of the Mereenie oil field.
The YMCA has asked the Town Council to pay it an additional amount of up to $45,000 a month "over and above the existing subsidy" for managing the town pool. The request was made by Fiona Davies, president of YMCA Central Australia, in a letter in December last year which proposed "a new business model with a new business plan and budget for presentation to Council at its March 2012 meeting."
The letter has been leaked to the Alice Springs News Online.
Meanwhile in a comment piece yesterday the News asked: Why can't we get a straight answer on this one?
The Alice Springs News Online had a phone call yesterday from someone requesting anonymity. What that person told me prompted me to send the following email to Mayor Damien Ryan and Town Council CEO Rex Mooney.
"I understand the YMCA has under-tendered for its management of the pool. Takings from attendance, and as a result, earnings, are well below expectations. The council is paying them half a million dollars more [in excess of the contract] during the life of the agreement (1 or 2 years?). This bail-out has not been made public. The proper course of action should have been to re-tender the contract. Could you please comment on this?"
Mr Mooney responded yesterday: "Erwin, thank you for your email. My comment is: I am constrained by confidentiality to comment on the assumptions conveyed in your email." And Mr Ryan (pictured) replied: "Erwin ... any questions on operational issues need to be directed to the CEO." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.