The Northern Territory government says the quiet appointment of Central Australia’s regional controller to a second position will not hinder her search for solutions to the crime crisis.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appointed Ms Anderson to the new Central Australian Controller role last year
- She’s been tasked with reporting to the NT government about solutions to the region’s crime crisis
- Ms Anderson’s appointment to a second territory government role hasn’t been announced publicly
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese flew into Alice Springs last January to appoint Dorrelle Anderson to the specialist regional controller position in a bid to address the issues plaguing the town.
Ms Anderson was tasked with ensuring federal and territory governments provided a coordinated, effective response to escalating social problems in the region.
But the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet confirmed this week that she had been appointed to a second role as deputy chief executive officer for regional growth.
Ms Anderson’s appointment to that role was not announced publicly, but Chief Minister Eva Lawler said on Thursday that there was nothing unusual about that.
“I don’t think there’s any conspiracy theories or anything sinister at all,” Ms Lawler said.
“This is sensible recruitment.”
Ms Lawler acknowledged the new job was a senior role but said she was confident Ms Anderson could do both jobs.
“She needs to just get on and do the work as a strong public servant,” she said.
Deputy Chief Minister Chansey Paech, who represents Central Australia, said the more power given to local decision-makers, the better.
“Having a deputy chief executive officer in Alice Springs is absolutely what our government was committed to doing. Having local decisions made by local people in local areas,” he said.
New department may help bring change
Adjunct professor at Charles Darwin University Rolf Gerritsen has lectured for more than a decade on public policy and previously worked for the chief minister and cabinet.
He said the new role with the powerful NT government department may embolden Ms Anderson.
“I suspect she’s finding it difficult to coordinate Territory government departments towards targeted actions and cooperating with each other,” Dr Gerritsen said.
“And it would be simpler to achieve that through a role based in the Chief Minister’s department.”
While he was surprised there had not been a more public explanation about her role as controller, Dr Gerritsen said the real issue was being able to show voters that the situation had improved before the election.
“The problem for the government is what results will come out of it. That’s their problem. But the way that the results are achieved is not a problem,” he said.
What has the controller done?
Though public appearances and interviews have been rare, one of Ms Anderson’s more prominent acts has been a report to both governments on alcohol policy.
A week after assuming her role, Ms Anderson released a report commissioned by the NT and federal governments on social disorder in Alice Springs.
In this report, she recommended urgent new alcohol laws for the region and extra funding to help tackle the underlying causes of crime in Alice Springs.
Since then, Intervention-era liquor bans have been reinstated across remote communities, set to remain in place until communities can develop alcohol management plans to opt out.
The federal government also announced a $250 million rescue package for Alice Springs and Central Australia, $186.2 million of which has been allocated.
But both levels of government have been accused of walking away from a key recommendation made in Ms Anderson’s report, for the region’s service providers to be funded based on need — not population.