NT Budget: Little new for The Centre


The Territory Government is providing more land for homes in Alice Springs, including $8.3m for release of another stage of Kilgariff Estate, according to a media release from Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

He says: “A further $16.1m has been set aside for development of industrial land in Alice Springs, including potential releases in Arumbera and Brewer Estate.

“The Tanami Road project is a $200m, 10‑year initiative to upgrade and seal key sections of the road, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Territory governments.

The Tanami Road stretches for more than 1,000 kilometres between Alice Springs and Halls Creek in Western Australia.

Sealing the Tanami Road from Alice Springs to Yuendumu commenced in November of 2020 and is due to be completed by late 2021.

The project will deliver significant economic benefits to the region, particularly in the mining, pastoral and tourism industries, and increase remote community access to essential services.

A $11.3m multi storey carpark at the Alice Springs Hospital will provide 250 more carparks
for staff and the public. Construction is underway and due to be complete by December.

The Commonwealth has committed $25.7m for an ambulatory care centre at the hospital, to deliver a broad range of services including renal dialysis, oncology, obstetrics and gynaecology clinical services and midwifery.

The Territory Government has invested $15m in the CBD to “enhance amenities, improve safety (CCTV array in the Mall), reduce radiant heat and attract people and business back to the CBD,” says Mr Gunner.

The Outback Way is a series of roads and unsealed tracks connecting Winton in Queensland to Laverton in Western Australia via Central Australia, passing through Alice Springs.

The route, which includes the Plenty Highway, totals 2,800 kilometre and is a popular 4WD road trip experience. Construction on the Plenty Highway and Tjukaruru Road started in 2015. Several road upgrades have been completed to date, with five further packages worth $23.3m expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

This will contribute to fully sealing the route from Western Australia to Queensland.

The Budget commits $46.9m to developing a National Aboriginal Art Gallery “at the Anzac Hill Precinct in Alice Springs.

“The gallery will be the centrepiece of the Territory Arts Trail and be dedicated to the display, celebration and interpretation of Aboriginal art,” says Mr Gunner.

The design is due for completion by the end of 2021, followed by construction soon after.

The National Indigenous Cultural Centre in Alice Springs will be a “dynamic and living centre that celebrates the historical and ongoing contribution of Aboriginal culture”.

The Budget includes $19.4m for it.

The Alice Springs hospital staff accommodation will be close to the hospital and will have 40 x 1 bedroom units, 20 x 2 bedrooms units and 10 x 3 bedroom units, of‑street parking, swimming pool and gymnasium, rooftop common area and retail or other commercial space adjacent to Todd Street.

The facility will be leased by government at an expected cost of $29 million over 15 years. Construction is currently in progress, supporting 120 construction jobs and 125 indirect jobs with at least 15% Aboriginal participation. Construction is expected to be complete in late 2021.

Central Australia is the Territory’s largest region, covering 42% of the total land area. The region includes small communities separated by long distances. It is home to about 39,400 people, of whom about 43% are Aboriginal. Alice Springs has a population of about 26,400 people.

Around 35% of the region’s population is aged 24 years or under and about 8% is 65 years or older.

AT TOP: The empty Todd Mall: $15m to “enhance amenities, improve safety, reduce radiant heat and attract people and business back to the CBD,” says the Chief Minister. 


UPDATE 3.15pm

Meanwhile Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro says in a media release: “For the second year in a row, the Chief Minister has delivered the worst budget the Territory has ever been forced to endure.

“Net debt has increased to more than $9 billion and is set to climb further, to $11.4 billion in 2024-25.

“Yet, the Treasurer’s so-called plan is a patchwork of re-hashed announcements, devoid of a blueprint for budget repair or economic growth. The deficit will sit a shade under $1.5 billion.

“Our interest payments continue to balloon. Debt per Territorian will be close to $50,000 and our daily interest payments will be $1.15m.

“Labor is still putting $3.7 million on the credit card every single day just to keep the lights on,“ says Mrs Finocchiaro.


UPDATE 6.30pm

Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley says the Budget is a “rehash of old announcements for Alice Springs with no timeframes.

“The lack of real commitment to Alice Springs was evident in Parliament today when the Chief Minister struggled to articulate his top three priorities for the economic reconstruction for our town.

“The Gunner Labor Government inherited a $1.8 billion debt in 2016. The debt in 2021 will be $9 billion, a fivefold increase.

“The debt was sitting at $8 billion before COVID hit. The lack of prudence, restraint and responsibility of the Gunner Government in managing the finances of the NT over the past five years is an absolute disgrace. Territorians are paying more than $1m per day just in interest repayments.

“But for Alice Springs it is more of the same old announcements and no solid plan for delivery.”



Police Association president Paul McCue says in a media release: “It is clear the government have taken on board direct feedback from our members on the ground who for too long carry the workload of what is a larger social issue, one which has to start in the home.

“We recognise the CLP have been pushing urgently for change in this space as well, and we hope to see changes in legislation passed next week on urgency to begin breaking the cycle of crime, in particular for the 16% of youths who continue to reoffend.

“Doing this should prevent some of the horrendous attacks we have seen on the community and our police in recent times.”


  1. More land for homes, but for whom? The Guardian Australia reported on the public housing crisis in Tasmania, where the wait to be allocated public housing is 52 weeks.
    Never mind those eligible for public housing in Alice Springs, where the waitlist is six years. If Tasmania is in a public housing crisis, then where does that leave us?

  2. ERRATUM “Sealing the Tanami Road from Alice Springs to Yuendumu commenced in November of 2020 and is due to be completed by late 2021.”
    That should read: “Sealing of the last 11km of the Tanami Road from Alice Springs to Yuendumu …”
    The sealing of the 271km stretch from the Stuart Highway turn-off to Yuendumu was first proposed by the Federal Department of North Australia in September 1973.
    When they finish it will have taken them a mere 48 years. Yipee!

  3. Again no long term strategic planning.
    The Outback Way is the most convenient shortcut from Queensland to WA.
    Little forethought is needed to see that Brewer, where there are already major trucking facilities, land adjacent to a cross country rail and an internationally accredited airport is the obvious place for an industrial estate.
    Our electricity emanates from there, critical in the coming era of electric vehicles.
    Look what the Wagener Bros airport has done at Toowoomba.
    Forget Arumbera, where there are already significant traffic problems, let alone industrial activity in that area.
    We have the unique situation where, by adding in the Tanami, we have the intersection of three major up and coming trans-national routes.
    We are or could offer many advantages over Pt Augusta as a national cross national hub, and industrial development will follow just as it has in Pt Augusta.
    Then other amenities will follow just as they have done in Pt Augusta.
    One only has to get caught in the traffic flows South of The Gap at peak hour to see that this is the reality.
    The last examination of traffic flows south that I can locate was in 2009, and that is about as far behind as this government’s planning is.
    So far as town planning is concerned, one could ask again why the fast food outlets are all on major traffic thoroughfares while out tourist office has no parking spaces at all!!
    Would you walk 300 metres for a big mac because that’s what we are asking our visitors to do to get tourist info.
    It should be at the transport Hall of Fame where the traffic facilities – bus and caravan parking –and our history are, and right on the major route to Uluru, and east-west traffic in years to come. From there you direct visitors to where you want the economic activity to be.
    This is what has happened in Winton and elsewhere in Queensland with outstanding results.
    It has also been claimed by many that the arts industry in Australia is massive in producing economic activity.
    If this is so why is not our Red Hot Arts display not where our current tourism office is and the tourism centre where the visitors have to pass, namely south of The Gap at the Transport Hall of Fame or the welcome rock?
    The real problem is that there are long standing interests in the town who are vigorously guarding their backsides and their entrenched self interests.

  4. The 10 year, $200m initiative for the Tanami Road will not result in much more sealed surface at the current rate cost of construction. It means that when I drive from Alice Springs to Halls Creek when I’m 100 in 20 years’ time I’ll still be swallowing lots of bulldust.
    The same scenario will apply to the Outback Way.
    But with some imagination, the Chinese will have built both by then, being in control of most of our resources, courtesy of our government.

  5. The Territory Government has invested $15m in the CBD to “enhance amenities, improve safety (CCTV array in the Mall), reduce radiant heat and attract people and business back to the CBD”.
    This is welcome but $50m or more is needed and why isn’t our town council fully engaged in similar activities?

  6. Alice Springs, a great place, has problems. Strong leadership and positive news are required.


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