In 2018 I sent the following email (reproduced below in italics) to Michael Gunner, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. I initially received a response that suggested there was merit in my suggestions and a meeting with a senior adviser in his department was arranged.
‘Getting back’ to me was promised but it never happened.
I followed up several times until finally receiving a message that the Chief Minister was far too busy to meet with me as he ‘had a punishing diary’. The final offer was that support would be given to set up a meeting if I wished a conversation with a particular minister or ministers.
So much for that I think.
Meanwhile, let us go on reinventing the wheel and discounting feedback and consideration about what has gone before.
To the Chief Minister
‘LONG TERM TERRITORIAN’ REFERENCE GROUP
I wanted to raise with you an idea that was discussed with me a number of months ago. It transpired that we (the other person and I) were both concerned about the number of new beaut ideas for Territory development being articulated, that are a revisitation of what has already been tried and discarded.
The rebirth ‘as new’ of old and dispensed with ideas occurs in large part because of ignorance about our history. One of the standout examples to illustrate my point is that of the CBD and particularly the mall having been re-visited at least four times during my time in the Northern Territory. There are other examples to do with our infrastructure development that have been similarly revisited.
Within departments, the same sort of thing happens. I’m most familiar with education. The idea of regionalising (decentralising function) educational management has been tried at least three times. When revisited nobody takes account of what has gone before. They often don’t know that ideas have been previously tried. That’s because we have a very poor record of recording history in the NT.
Another reason for regurgitation is that people in high level decision making positions often come and go after fairly short periods of time. People new to these positions often don’t know what has gone before. As well, they are often interested in adding their own “personal touch” for the sake of building curriculum vitaes. which will then be used to gain positions elsewhere and generally not in the Territory. The Territory is used as a stepping stone.
The Fix Idea
It seemed as we spoke about this issue, that the Northern Territory Government might give consideration to establishing a group of people who are long-term residents in the Northern Territory. This group might be asked if there is any previous history about ideas being flashed out as “new beaut schemes“.
Our thought was this group might comprise people with background into the operation of various departments and with experience in life and living in the Northern Territory in general terms.
Neither might it be necessary for people to meet physically to consider every issue, rather being asked for feedback by email or by phone on occasion. This will enable people living out of Darwin and Palmerston to be involved.
Our thought wasn’t that this group should be remunerated; that’s not the motivation of everybody who wants to support our territory and see it is a better place. The thinking was that in the interests of avoiding mistakes, particularly where those mistakes might arise from revisiting previous policy that had been discarded, a group of such a nature could lend itself to the betterment of the Territory.
I wanted to share this with you and wondered what you might think about such a development.
October 22 2018