THE ALDERMANIC QUESTION IS SOLVED

While I am reflecting on the situation of aldermanic representation as it applies to the City of Darwin Council, my thoughts may apply to aldermen elected to other councils.

When seeking election and immediately after a local government election takes place, candidates and aldermen promise they are going to be available to their constituents. They will door knock, hold regular meetings in shopping centres, produce newsletters and otherwise retain a high level of visibility. They will take concerns of ratepayers to council meetings and follow up on issues.

Within a relatively short time, that visibility reduces and often to a point of where aldermen become forgotten people. There is no door knocking, periodic meetings at shopping centres become sporadic (if they ever started) and phone calls or messages either go unanswered or are replied to only after a lengthy period of time.

Why? I have wondered for a long time but an answer in two parts now suggests itself.

1. Aldermen are workers, holding regular positions. Their aldermanic income is a stipend of only $40+ per day. Not enough to live on and their aldermanic ‘extras’ being time spent. on ratepayer and ward issues confirms this to be the case. To be an ‘alderman’ is an add on duty.

2. Aldermen are also family people who have responsibilities at home. This has a priority over their service to the community, meaning that time available for aldermanic duties is further trimmed.

In the NT, local government elections are still eighteen months away. So in fifteen months time, potentially new aldermen will present as candidates. They will contest the elections alongside those who are seeking a further term in office.

Then the ‘now we see you, now we don’t’ cycle will start over.

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