Both guests in this third part of our series have their minds on rebuilding as the pandemic is settling in around the globe.
Kelly-lee Hickey (at left), a PHD candidate, wants to see the next government seek the opinion of small business owners from around Central Australia and construct local plans on a community by community basis.
Meanwhile, Jocelyn Davis, a senior research scientist, thinks that investing in the arts all around Central Australia will be key to recovery.
Like many, both women also have our environment as front and centre issues for whoever takes office after the election.
Kelly-Lee Hickey, PHD candidate.
The next government is going to have to be there for communities to help them bounce back from this pandemic, particularly for industries like the arts, tourism and hospitality.
I am not a business owner, so I cannot offer any recommendations, but I think that the NT government needs to move beyond just listening to the Chamber of Commerce.
It doesn’t represent all businesses in the Territory, and they certainly don’t represent a majority of small businesses.
The government getting in touch with small businesses and the people on the ground could help them find leadership and solutions within communities.
Similar to what happened with the climate strikes in 2019, self-organised committees will emerge, as will spokespeople for the sector. The government would be wise to listen to them.
The NT is made up of very diverse and different communities, so what works for some will not work for others.
It is imperative that all communities come back from this. Local solutions that derive from engagement can work, and they don’t have to be scalable.
All of that said, there are things that would have been front of mind prior to this pandemic, particularly in regards to climate justice.
I am really excited and happy to see what is happening with the solar project in Borroloola.
I think that that holds great promise for many communities throughout Central Australia.
The government should work with Jacana to remove any blockages to those kinds of localised projects, and get behind renewables projects that provide us with new industries, clean jobs, and benefit the communities in their vicinity.
Jocelyn Davies (at right), senior research scientist.
Right now we are going through a crisis that is really focusing us on our own security, making a new normal and forcing us to change how we look at things.
We are just at the beginning of that. We can’t imagine where it’s going to go.
We will be changed for ever, but what will we have learned about safety and respect and how to apply that?
I want a government that seeks to learn lessons from what happens at community level during this time, and builds from the strengths that emerge.
Investment to support and strengthen communities all over Central Australia will be important, especially in remote communities that are under resourced as it is.
Investing in the kind of spheres that bring Aboriginal people together with the rest of the community, such as art, music and film, will be tremendously important after the pandemic, for us to rebuild.
We have seen the success of revitalised Aboriginal management of country spread from our remote communities to all over the nation and the way that it is empowering Aboriginal people, with women’s key role now also getting better recognised.
An incoming government must continue to support this important work.
Other actions that empower communities should also be taken. Water underpins the sustainability of everything in Central Australia.
I believe the government needs to ask the question: “Can we get a better incentive structure for how water is used?”
At the moment, there isn’t a good way for the government to manage demand for water or to understand how agricultural and mining uses are counter to sustainability in Central Australia.
I’d like to have some institutions that have government sectors working together in a broader way so that local benefits are clear, whether those come through local jobs or simply better stocked local markets and better food security.
Lastly, this is a bit of a bugbear for me, but I believe it illustrates some of what I am talking about: Where else in Australia other than the Northern Territory does than local government have so little authority in town planning?
Having the NT Government hold all the power seems paternalistic. I’d like to see more trust and partnership.
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