Chief Minister, the person developing your Linked In account where comments under the leader’s banner are shared with readers, often waxes lyrical about our progress and accomplishments.
In reality, it is often hard to see those ‘best outcomes’ for the Territory. One of your government’s biggest needs is to learn lessons from history, studying issues that have gone before and considering outcomes that have lead us to the present situations we confront.
As as long term Territorian who arrived in 1975, I have raised thoughts with the Chief Minister’s Department. Warm reception to some of my thoughts then became lukewarm before achieving cold water status. I was told it would not be possible to make an appointment to see you – ever – because you have a “punishing diary”.
Allow me to share some thoughts, which you probably will not see because you do not actually compose the copy that goes onto this site.
• We have lost manufacturing industries. Inpex has been a winner and is often canned quite unjustifiably for the good it has brought and continues to bring. But it is our small manufacturing and industrial industries that are on Struggle Street, with many having closed and gone.
• We have lost service providers in great numbers. Providers across a range of areas from building, electrical and plumbing to catering and restauranters.
• We have introduced massive red tape and bragged about minimal and periodic easing of paperwork accountabilities. Government departments and instrumentalities are overwhelmed with paperwork accountability and justification. Too many people have to guard their backs ands keep a close eye on the mirror to see they are up to speed. They are fearful rather than trustful, unsure rather than confident. They feel insecure in their appointments.
• The pastoral industry is unsure of futures with everything from water licensing to fracking confronting their immediate and intermediate futures.
• The development of Darwin’s hinterland is fraught. On the one hand the number of small holdings is growing and the rural population is on the rise. On the other side of the equation are diminished water resources and an ominous lowering of water levels within the aquifer system.
• We have a level of government debt that is out of control and a credit rating that gives rise to alarm. We endorse greater and greater percentages of our Territory GDP being spent on offsetting interest accumulating on government borrowings. A daily interest bill north of $100,000,000 per day is mind-blowing stuff!
• There is an over focus on visions for the development of Darwin’s CBD that defies the realities of city centre limitations. Every government perpetuates the myth that the city centre should be a jewel of the north. At the same time our older suburbs are unkempt, run-down and deteriorating at an alarming rate. Streetscapes that were the pride and joy of government and the municipality are now suffering for want of care.
• Infrastructural projects are approved at a giddying rate and project after project replaces those which are completed. But care and maintenance of existing facilities is largely ignored meaning that facilities costing multiple millions often have a short life expectancy.
• Tourists and visitors are deemed to be more important than long term territory residents. A great number of the attractions trotted out to attract and entertain them, are shallow and gimmicky.
• Crime is a major social growth industry with huge impacts upon the NT. While our police force – for mine the best in the nation – does a great job in control, the court system is limp wristed at best with punishments being unrealistically light. Our community is increasingly being held to ransom by the aberrant, delinquent behaviour of far too many young and not so young people, who are often recidivist offenders. Government reaction is to try and shy away from these issues rather than confronting them in a full on manner. These matters cannot be treated by sliding around the issues of crime.
• Government dreams big and is helped with developing its vision by as plethora of advisers and others who inhabit the fifth floor of Parliament House and who control many of the top jobs in key departments. But in reality we are confronting a tattered economy and a fractured economic and social outlook.