Christmas wishes from ALEC'S Director

G'day folks, what a year it has been! 2016 will resonate with many as a year that brought as many challenges as it did opportunities.

At an organisational level, ALEC not only survived the Giles CLP Government funding cuts and attacks on the environment but managed to thrive under the tough conditions. Arid Edge provided an income stream and opportunity to get our strategies delivered on a contractual basis and the response from the community through regular and one-off donations boosted our income also. The NT Labor party committed to restoring funding to support the environment sector's engagement on policy. ALEC sealed the deal for a 5 year agreement. Whilst the boost in funding is very much welcomed, ALEC still needs your regular donations to keep working at our current capacity.

Fracking became an election issue where increasing numbers of people have yellow triangles on their front gates and are mobilising and organising against the shale gas and associated industry. The NT Labor party campaigned on a fracking moratorium platform and their election win has seen this policy implemented and an inquiry institigated. Unfortunately, the ALP support the Northern Gas Pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa which is intended to drive fracking across the NT. Inspired by the Sioux water protectors and the #NoDAPL campaign in North Dakota, we're committed to fighting this hard in 2017, check #noNTPL for details. 

ALEC and the Central Australian Nuclear Free Alliance directly fought off a proposal for a national Nuclear waste dump in Hale, 75km south of Alice Springs. The Federal Government selected the Barnidoota site, on Adnyamathanha land near the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. ALEC continues to support the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance and stands with the Elders opposed to this proposed dump. 

Locally in Alice Springs, we have supported the rise of RePower Alice Springs as a credible and powerful voice advocating for a 100% solar powered grid by 2030. The change of government and a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 is a far cry better than what the previous government was offering. ALEC is continuing to lead discussions with key agencies in pushing for a solar powered future for the region. The establishment of an expert panel to deliver a Renewables Roadmap for the NT is a great start by the NT Government. 

Other highlights for the year but remaining concerns are the gifting of the coal licences by Minister Tollner in the last day before the caretaker period (see link below). We're waiting to hear back from the new Minister Vowles about what he intends to do about it. ALEC has also requested some information about the intent to remove the exemptions of mining and petroleum activities from the Water Act. This is ongoing work.  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/23/timing-of-nt-governments-secret-deal-with-tri-star-coal-company-queried

ALEC's work on the Ten Deserts continues to build collaboration and the potential for big cross-border projects to support the protection of the natural and cultural values of our vast and relatively intact desert country. In 2017, ALEC will be increasing its work in supporting a very large grant funded opportunity to get more indigenous rangers engaged in land management activities. 

I could go on and on....it has been a huge year for the team and I want to thank Nicole, Carmel and Alex for the work that they do to support this great little organisation. It has been a challenging time but we have survived.

The hard work now begins as we work with government to implement changes rather than previously when the door, as well as ears were firmly shut. We have opportunities to create great change in this region and it is only possible with the ongoing support or our members and Desert Defenders. Thanks for your support in 2016 and I can tell you right now, we're going to need you, your friends, families and neighbours in on it this next year to ensure we are on the path towards a sustainable and resilient region.

Alice Springs Town Council elections are on in August 2017 and ALEC will be doing its best to ensure a strong vision for Australia's Inland Capital is taken on by candidates. 

In the meantime, have a wonderful festive season. Rest, recuperate and have fun. We look forward to working with you again in 2017 to build 'healthy futures for arid lands and people.'

Yours in solidarity and gratitude

Jimmy Cocking

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