As pre-election interest in tourism revival moves up a notch with the Territory Alliance pre-selection of prominent industry figure Dale McIver, veteran operator Charlie Carter predicts the visitors business will get smaller but better.
And former Tennant Creek businessman and public figure Gavin Carpenter, now living in Alice Springs, is sure rebuilding communication with communities is the only way for any government to succeed.
Whatever the actions of the next government, they will be in light of the virus that has affected every corner of the globe. I believe this will be a chance for the NT and Central Australia to reset and focus on what is achievable and realistic.
In my view, growth in the NT — particularly in Central Australia which is an economy built on services — is unsustainable.
I find this to be particularly true of the tourism industry, an industry I have 20 years of experience in.
In a post COVID world, air travel is likely to be down as we realise that we need it less, it is less and less environmentally suitable, and much of the industry could fail to rebound.
Anyone who thinks continued growth for tourism in the NT is a viable way forward is short sighted.
All of this is not to say there is no place for tourism here, just one that is built on fewer people coming here but experiencing more.
For this to be achieved this industry will have to turn to its strengths: natural and cultural beauty. Indigenous involvement will be key for this to succeed. I understand that this is happening, but it must begin to be on a far grander scale.
This change should begin with education, something the Territory has struggled with for a long time.
Successive governments have spent countless dollars with little reward, but I believe that instead of sending first year out teachers to remote locations, they should be sending out the best and most experienced. Sure it’s going to cost more money, but the return is going to be manyfold.
Lastly, the fracking gas industry is going to be a stranded asset.
This has come home with bang at the moment and I do not see any possible future for that industry here in the Territory.
Renewable energy is becoming cheaper and cheaper as the day goes on, and the arse has absolutely fallen out of the fossil fuel market. Governments pouring taxpayers money into fossil fuel is an absolute abomination and must end.
We have the ability and resources to be creating massive amounts of solar energy that can be sent off to energy thirsty nations in south-east Asia and we should be capitalising on it.
For a start, communication must improve.
I lived in Tenant Creek for 33 years before moving to Alice Springs, so I have been in the area for a long time.
Politicians of old would at least get back to you; these days they are hidden behind a screen of bureaucrats and public service workers full of spin.
If any political party is to succeed in Alice, there are going to have to listen to the community and encourage those that are here — those that love to live here, to stay.
There is no encouragement for the elderly community to stay here. Instead the constant focus on growth and change pushes us away.
Just look at the obsession with the gallery down at Anzac Oval for an example.
The Territory will never get out of debt if the government continues on the trajectory the are now on, no matter what party is in charge. On this trajectory I believe at some point the Federal government will be forced to step in.
What I would like to see is work towards a fully equipped senior’s village here in Alice Springs that can support the aged population who wants to stay but cannot continue to live in the situations they currently do.
A secure, safe place where elderly people can live happily and not have to worry about managing an entire house and garden would give people looking to move into the next stage of their lives the option of staying local.