tip off

Little Prick(s) bring out the dead in NT politics

The Little Prick” is a loose coalition of Northern Territory artists that delight in taking a long-overdue piss-take out of those things that local politicians, the mainstream media and commerce hold dear.

Their device is a new take on the cover art of the vacuous and glossy lifestyle magazines that have proliferated in recent years. Their latest target? NT’s Renewal Management Board, established by the new Country Liberal Party.

According to this presser from Chief Minister Terry Mills in early September, the RNB was established to “examine the state of the Territory’s finances and provide options for government on how to return to a balanced budget during the first term”:

The board has an enormous task ahead sorting through the previous government’s priorities and restructuring the Territory’s finances,” Mr Mills said. “My government is committed to reducing waste and making frontline service delivery a priority.”

Others had a different view. The NT News has consistently railed against the appointment of those perceived to be either too close to the CLP, old hands bought out of retirement to advise the government or on fat consultancy fees. In early December, following the release of the CLP government’s mini-budget, Nigel Adlam wrote:

Mr Mills said he would ‘rationalise’ the use of consultancies. But at least some of the advice and coordination money is being spent partly on paying consultants and other advisers — some of them members of the CLP.”

The local ABC reported:

Documents tabled in the Northern Territory Parliament have revealed the chairman of the board set up to review the Territory’s finances is being paid $220,000 for six months’ work. Former Territory Administrator Neil Conn is the chair of the Renewal Management Board. The board’s two deputy chairmen, Ken Clarke and John Gardiner, are being paid $200,000. A former Territory government minister, Barry Coulter, is being paid $150,000 dollars as an adviser to the board.”

Predictably, the NT Labor Party went on the attack following the release of the RMB’s interim report, with Labor leader Delia Lawrie delivering this spray:

… the progress report released by the CLP government’s Renewal Management Board (RMB) is a blueprint of their plans to send the Territory backwards. The CLP government has put this document together as part of their plan to sack public servants and slash services to Territorians to pay for their unfunded election commitments. This document lacks credibility. It has been constructed by hand-picked mates of Chief Minister Terry Mills and is not endorsed by Treasury. One of the report’s authors has been a subject of a Public Accounts Committee report before and was found to have artificially amended Territory budget figures. The CLP government has made it clear that they are more concerned about profits than people.”

And there is apparently no shortage of ex-pollies and CLP fellow travellers who have emerged from their political graveyards, renewed and invigorated by the CLP’s return to power.

It helps to have Little Pricks puncturing the speech bubbles, cant and spin of politicians and to provide some much needed levity into political debates that are all too often almost impossibly obscure, and removed from our blunted daily realities. We seem to have lost what was once a much cherished Australian trait of kicking against the pricks with a smile.

You can see more from their exhibition earlier this year at the website of renowned Top End snapper David Hancock’s Gallery Two Six in Darwin. The Little Pricks  — according to the bumph at the Gallery Two Six website — 

… paint an alternative and largely humorous picture of how a burgeoning oil and gas industry, an American military base, nuclear waste store and poor urban planning will impact on our society.”

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