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Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia
Opportunities and methods for stimulating the tourism industry in Northern Australia

RYAN, Councillor Damien, Mayor, Alice Springs Town Council

Committee met at 13:06

CHAIR ( Mr Entsch ): I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and paying our respects to their elders past and present. I declare this public hearing and the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia in reference to the Inquiry into Opportunities and Methods for Stimulating the Tourism Industry in Northern Australia open and would like to thank everyone for being here today. I will ask my deputy to move that if there are any media present that they may cover today's proceedings on the condition that cameras neither film nor take photos of private papers, laptops of committee members, the secretariat or witnesses.


CHAIR: So moved. Thank you for the opportunity of being here today. If I could start on my left here with the man with the hat, would you just like to introduce yourself?

Senator DODSON: Senator Pat Dodson, Labor, Western Australia, and I live in Broome.

Mr SNOWDON: Warren Snowdon. I live here.

CHAIR: Warren Entsch.

Mr SNOWDON: He does not live here.

CHAIR: I do not live here. I lived in Darwin once for a while. I am a Liberal member representing Leichhardt, which is from Cairns right up to the mainland of Papua New Guinea. It takes in all of Torres Strait and Cape York.

Ms O'TOOLE: Cathy O'Toole. I am the Labor member for Herbert, which is predominantly Townsville. It is great to be here and I pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet.

Senator McCARTHY: I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners, too. I think most of you I am familiar with, so it is nice to be here.

CHAIR: Thank you very much indeed. Now, what I would like to do is call on representatives from Alice Springs Town Council.

Councillor Ryan : First of all you threw me on 'the man with the hat.' It is usually the bloke sitting next to you, but no disrespect to Mr Dodson. I also acknowledge the Central Arrernte people as the traditional owners and custodians of Alice Springs. Today I would like to speak about three issues.

CHAIR: Before you do that we have a formality to go through here. These hearings are formal proceedings of the parliament and the giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of the parliament. As I indicated, our hearings are recorded by Hansard and, as such, attract parliamentary privilege. Now I am going to invite you to make a short, brief opening statement and then we will get these guys to fire off some questions.

Councillor Ryan : Certainly. Thank you, Mr Chair. I would like to speak about three issues today. I would like to speak about the Outback Way, which connects Australia from east to west. I would also like to speak about Alice Springs, the central business district and opportunities, and also about airlines that service Central Australia.

First of all, the Outback Way—just a bit of background knowledge—this is a group of councils across from Laverton to Boulia, although in Canberra it is known as the Perth to Cairns Highway. The Shire of Laverton, the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, the Alice Springs Town Council, the Boulia Shire Council and the Winton Shire Council have worked together over the last 10 years with the aim to seal the Outback Way. Now, understanding it runs across two states and a territory we do come across different regulations, but the Outback Way has secured about $200 million worth of funding from the federal government and state and territory governments since 2013. The most recent funding was $100 million announced by the deputy prime minister during 2016.

The Outback Way is very important to our community and all the communities along the way and we feel that it has huge benefits for our community, mainly through safety and, if this road is sealed, freight efficiencies, community access and especially tourism with future development potential.

At this stage there are about 1,300 kilometres or thereabouts still to be sealed of the Outback Way. My point today, in talking to the Northern Australian discussion here, is the fact that as a group we seriously need to see ongoing funding for this road from now until its completion. The interesting facet is that in the Queensland and Western Australian sectors roads are built by local governments; in the Northern Territory they are built by private contractors.

CHAIR: Before you go any further, just on that one, because we have a limited amount of time. Let me just say to you the Outback Way is well and truly on our radar. We have already spoken to them formally in Canberra. We have already had the Department of Transport before the committee asking them what the issues were because we were concerned that the Tanami section of it—

Mr SNOWDON: That is not it.

CHAIR: That is the other road. I am sorry. I do apologise. We were checking on that, too, because no work had been done on that. We are very familiar with the way in which the work is done in Western Australia and Queensland as opposed to the Northern Territory. Also, this highway has been identified as a critical one in Northern Australia and that is the reason why it has been funded, along with a number of others. We are very, very determined, firstly, to make sure that as that money is spent it continues to the completion of the project and, secondly, that we maximise the participation of local contractors and Indigenous employment as the bitumen rolls out.

So that one is there. I just wanted to say that because we are, if you like, all over it like a fat kid on a cupcake. I think it is fair to say to us it is critical. Yes, it is absolutely critical. I just thought I would reassure you of that and if you have other issues that you want to raise then we will go back to that once you have finished.

Councillor Ryan : Thank you. It was important that I put our view, as a council, on that Outback Way.

CHAIR: Yes, of course.

Councillor Ryan : The discussion that is happening in Canberra around City Deals at the moment I would like to express our interest in Alice Springs that I would not like to see City Deals only concentrate on high population areas around the coast. We, being in the centre of Australia, and in the words of our Chief Minister, the capital of outback Australia, it is really important that we are able to play in this space when it is announced. We have the ability here, in the centre of Australia. As a council we have committed approximately $800,000 in our current budget and we would like to see that we can still stay in this space with City Deals.

We have a population in Central Australia, in our particular patch, of around 48,000 with about 28,000 residing in Alice Springs. I have fears that City Deals may recognise only by population. What it can do for us with the building of the National Indigenous Gallery here in Central Australia, in Alice Springs, by the territory government, a connection to City Deals can avail our community of much needed funds to continue connectivity with our community and with the visitors to Central Australia. We need to be able to show that real-time data and smart technologies can work here. We are one of the eight solar cities that were created by the federal government. Forty million dollars came from that starting back in 2008. We have $100 million worth of development here in Central Australia. We are putting up our expertise in that space to say we are really keen to ensure that we are part of City Deals. I wanted to make the point that that technology or that connectivity we can do as long as we do not fall outside of the realm because of population numbers.

The other one I wanted to speak about briefly in my opening was around airlines and the servicing of Alice Springs. At a recent QNA event there was a discussion around whether or not airlines are fair to Alice Springs in the costing of travel within the territory. We have daily connections between Alice Springs and Darwin which both business and visitors use. That is serviced by QantasLink. The costs are rather prohibitive. It is also very frustrating as a community that our community will drive 500 kilometres to Uluru to catch a cheaper flight out of Uluru to the east coast of Australia than they can out of Alice Springs. That brings all sorts of issues around safety and everything else because they do a day's work and then do a dash through the night to catch a flight. It is ridiculous that the tourism market into Uluru is viewed differently than the tourism market into Alice Springs, so it really does call upon the development of tourism in Central Australia. These issues have to be addressed. To travel from Brisbane to here is atrocious today, except for two days a week when there is a direct flight. The rest of the time we have direct flights from other capital cities daily but we do not have a lot of competition into the centre of Australia. I am open to questions from the panel.

CHAIR: I suspect the local member should be the first one to kick off. I am sure he has some questions that have been couched.

Mr SNOWDON: I would like to pursue the airlines, if you do not mind. As you know, I suspect or I firmly believe that there might be a bit of price gouging going on but you might just explain that to me. We met with Voyages. They have been able to attract airlines by putting in incentives because they own Connellan Airport. They are responsible for it. They are in charge of the landing fees, the upkeep, maintenance and so on. They have been able to put in place some incentives for airlines to come to them and, as a result of those incentives, have been able to attract airlines into there, principally Jetstar out of Melbourne and Sydney. What capacity is there for you, do you think—and I know the answer to this, by the way, but if you could just explain—on how the council might be able to influence the people who run our airport to change the way in which they administer landing fees, for example, or provide opportunities to attract other airlines in?

Councillor Ryan : As far as a council in a small local government area, in relation to fees, it is totally out of our range altogether within our budget, but the discussion of interest to me is that you can fly Alice Springs to Melbourne return cheaper than you can fly Alice Springs to Darwin return. These are the difficulties. So if we get a visitor in here from Melbourne or Sydney then do we lose them? Do they turn around and go back? Does the whole tourism across the territory get affected by it? With only the one operator, in reality, linking Alice Springs and Darwin, that is where the costs become prohibitive.

Mr SNOWDON: There has been some marginal decrease in fares, has there not, with the competition from Virgin on the days that Virgin flies?

Councillor Ryan : Yes, there has, but having lived here all my life we have experienced this regularly. If we go back to Virgin, the first Virgin—and I think it was Blue, but I am not sure—$99 fares from the east coast seven days a week. Within three months they were coming out of Adelaide four days a week and any backpacker there, I am sorry, was probably lost. The value then in the other airlines came down but as soon as that competition left the value just climbed back up again.

Mr SNOWDON: What do we need to do to attract airlines to come in and price differently?

Councillor Ryan : We need a fair review of their price structure, how they run the east coast of Australia and how they run the rest of Australia. There must be a formula within the airlines. The fact is that Jetstar direct, tomorrow I think it is, from Melbourne to Ayres Rock is $324 but from Melbourne to Alice Springs tomorrow is $547. These prices have big differences.

CHAIR: Who owns the Alice Springs airport?

Councillor Ryan : Northern Territory Airports. They own Darwin, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Alice Springs.

CHAIR: Do they own Uluru too?

Councillor Ryan : No. It is a separate one. It is Voyages.

CHAIR: NT Airports is a privately listed company.

Mr SNOWDON: Australian Airports Corporation.

Senator DODSON: I just want to ask a question on the Outback Way. At one stage the Laverton Shire was having some difficulty in concluding agreements with the native title holders over a section of the road in order to expend some of the funds and so their contractor was going to start from the Territory border rather than some other section. Are you aware of any other difficulties?

Councillor Ryan : No. I have not heard those from Patrick Hill. He is the president of Laverton Shire and he is also the chair of the Outback Way. The Laverton Shire and the Boulia Shire in Queensland are both keen to tender for roads within the Northern Territory because they believe they can build them cheaper. We have to understand we have a highway structure in the Northern Territory of a very high standard but I am not aware of native title issues on the highway.

Senator DODSON: Are you aware of any other issues that may be inherent in any of those shires?

Councillor Ryan : No. They seem to have very good agreements around gravel and water in the west and in Queensland. Here, in the territory, being built by private contractors, that work happens. The bigger structure here is when little bits are let along the way. It is the relocation costs of the contractor from the 110 K peg to the 70 K peg. There are massive costs involved.

Senator DODSON: Just back on the airlines, has that produced a downturn in your tourism visitors into the city?

Councillor Ryan : No, I would not suggest it is a downturn but I think there is a very big untapped market.

Senator DODSON: Do you have numbers? Do you monitor this?

Councillor Ryan : I do not have access to those numbers but I am sure others in the room might be able to help in that area. My experiences are around conventions and so forth that we, as a council, get involved with in helping to attract here but there is a cost inhibitor.

Senator DODSON: Are there other sorts of plans you would like to see that would enhance the attractiveness of the city for tourism purposes?

Councillor Ryan : Yes. I am very confident that the discussion around the Aboriginal National Gallery here in Central Australia, loosely based on, in my view, the MONA experience in Hobart, can be a huge boom for our community. There is a considerable amount of money being put aside and there is a very high-powered group who are working on that at the moment with a delivery to the Northern Territory government later this year. There is also the discussion around the cultural precinct or structure as well. There are two different projects that are being talked about; one is being run by local people and the other is being run by an artistic base, or people with expertise in that area.

Senator DODSON: So the gallery is run by whom?

Councillor Ryan : Philip Watkins from Desart and Ms Perkins are the two main Central Australian connects on that.

Senator DODSON: Has land been secured for this?

Councillor Ryan : No. That has not been announced as yet. Their job was to find a location. As a council we have been thoroughly encouraging them to ensure to put it in the CBD. The CBD is the most important part for all business going forward. As a bit of a connection to the City Deals, we have the issue of heat here through six months of the year and we want to use the experts around the world to be able to reduce that heat structure, whether it is through shading or whatever the processes are. That is what we want to be able to tap into the City Deals project for.

Senator DODSON: Thank you.

Senator McCARTHY: Mayor Ryan, you raised those three points: Outback Way, Alice Springs and the central business district and the airlines. One of the things that our committee is looking at is employment, in particular Indigenous employment, as we look across Northern Australia. You mentioned there that $100 million was provided in 2016, if I can just go to the Outback Way. Is the Alice Springs Town Council involved with any of the construction side of it directly?

Councillor Ryan : In the territory local governments do not get to work on national roads; we can only assist in direction or advocacy to the Northern Territory government. The Northern Territory government will be the proponent of the territory road structure. One of the ones that we have been pushing for in our involvement on the Outback Way is definitely the Docker River side at this stage because people purchase cars that would do pretty well in Alice Springs but they are destroyed on that road from the rock down. There was about a five and a half kilometre piece of bitumen laid in the last year around the airport restructure out there but in speaking to elected members on the MacDonnell Regional Council their desire really is to have that road sealed. That will help that community but it will also help tourism.

Senator McCARTHY: In terms of the $100 million that you told us about, what part does Alice Springs Town Council play in that? Is there anything?

Councillor Ryan : No, we will not get any of it but we have been involved. We have been working with Minister Chester and through his department. There are some commitments. It is an interesting road when the Queensland government and the Western Australian government look at it as to why should they spend money heading into a desert, where the Territory government sees it as a great connection between the two. It has been a really interesting collaborative over the time. We look at the dinosaurs in the Winton-Boulia area today. They are going to become a major attraction going forward. When the Indigenous National Gallery is here with what you have got in the west, you have got this terrific storyline that runs east to west across Australia that can be used.

Mr SNOWDON: From memory most of the $100 million for the territory was earmarked for the Plenty.

Councillor Ryan : There is a considerable amount for the Plenty. There have been some discussions recently between our Outback Way Council and the territory government. They had an interest in fixing the existing road. We fought very hard the fact that the commitment from the deputy prime minister was to build new roads, not to patch up other roads, so we are very strong on the fact that it needs to be new bitumen laid. I think we carried that through the federal government's department under Minister Chester.

Senator McCARTHY: For the benefit of the committee can you outline the airline side of it? I know you had a bit of a chat there earlier on with regards to the airlines but what are the daily services?

Councillor Ryan : Yes. We have a Darwin-Alice Springs-Darwin each day with QantasLink. It goes on to Perth and it goes back through to the top of Queensland. We also have Qantas that comes from Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. We have Brisbane here twice a week; I think it is only on the weekends. To go to Canberra for work you have to fly via Sydney or Melbourne. At one stage there were some direct flights between Canberra and Darwin but I think they have since finished.

Senator McCARTHY: That was a trial for a little while.

Ms O'TOOLE: Just on the employment side, what proportion of your economy would tourism contribute?

Councillor Ryan : Tourism is possibly the largest person employer. Health and tourism are very big industries in Alice Springs. The numbers of people employed are rather large. At the moment we have around 12 per cent employment on our local council that are Aboriginal members of our community. To the south of us, the MacDonnell Regional Council, and to the north of us, the Central Desert Regional Council, have a way higher percentage of Aboriginal employment but in tourism employment I would defer to some of those behind me.

Ms O'TOOLE: Are you aware of what the opportunities for employment are for Aboriginal people in the health sector?

Councillor Ryan : That is a big commitment by the Department of Health going forward. We had health boards up until 30 June this year. The government has decided to change that now. I chaired the Central Australian Health Service for the last three years. From where we were to where we have got to in three years a lot more Aboriginal health workers have been employed because our footprint was from the border to Elliott, so rather a big footprint, about 1,700 full-time equivalent staff over that area. Our responsibilities were the Alice Springs Hospital, when I was on the chair, and the Tennant Creek Hospital. There are 183 beds here and 20 beds in Tennant Creek. Yes, there are lots of opportunities that have started to be recognised and more and more people are being employed as health workers, which our community used to have 20 years ago. We are heading back to that.

Ms O'TOOLE: What would the opportunities be for young people, including Aboriginal young people, for apprenticeships or traineeships here?

Councillor Ryan : The opportunities are very good. There is more and more work done on this. For argument's sake, nursing; Charles Darwin University does a lot in nursing in Central Australia. We have people from New South Wales and Victoria who partake in the Charles Darwin University project here. Flinders, in the clinician side, now have 'grow your own' doctors based out of Darwin. I think that is in their third year now. There are about 20 people at each intake. That is great for us going forward because local kids are doing that. I have a niece in that program. There are lots of opportunities at Charles Darwin University through their VET programs. It also goes back to some of the junior programs run in our town like Clontarf and Centralian Girls Academy. They are all making very good inroads in ensuring these young men and women have got transitional opportunities.

Ms O'TOOLE: Could I ask also about the opportunity for older persons in aged care facilities? Do you believe they are adequate to support your mainstream community as well as your Aboriginal communities?

Councillor Ryan : There is always room for improvement. We are working at the moment, as a community, with the territory government to look at a new retirement village here in Central Australia. In the last 10 years we have had more and more people who have retired here. Once upon a time people took their superannuation and left because their kids were on the coast or somewhere else. We have more and more that stay here now. Through the local government, through our council, we have more and more attendees at seniors events in our community so that, I think, is a bright spot for us.

Ms O'TOOLE: That is good. Just finally, the grey nomad industry; how prevalent or important is that in your community and what impact does the road situation have on that?

Councillor Ryan : The grey nomads are customers to this town. There is not a lot that stay here with work. They tend to head further north. Some of them are still not real keen on our cool mornings in the winter. The days are lovely but it can be cool in the morning. They are a very important part of our economy. That is why I have always believed in the Outback Way, that it gives them another route across Australia. Yes, they are important every year.

Ms O'TOOLE: Thank you.

CHAIR: Just going back to the Outback Way, of course there are a lot of small businesses that are dotted along the Outback Way and I am sure there are lots around here as well. As part of the Northern Australia white paper there is a Northern Australia Tourism Initiative that is available to small businesses with a turnover in excess of $750,000 a year. I am interested in what your views are in relation to opportunities to access that. There would be a lot of small businesses along the Outback Way that are relatively small, but nobody could argue that they are not sustainable. They have been around for a long time but as the bitumen rolls out and visitation starts to increase you would think that there is an opportunity to grow their businesses. I am just wondering how many of those you think would qualify to be able to get access to that program at a minimum of $750,000 a year?

Councillor Ryan : It is an interesting equation. I think that there are possibilities in the Docker River region. They currently have an honesty park on the edge of the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory but the vehicle numbers are not high because the road is pretty hard to travel.

CHAIR: No. What I am saying is that to be able to apply for a funding opportunity to grow your business you have got to have an annual turnover of $750,000 a year. I am just wondering: in your experience, would a lot of people be disqualified because they would not be able to reach that criterion?

Councillor Ryan : In outback Australia, yes, but, given the opportunity, they will be able to grow to those numbers.

CHAIR: Of course, that is the whole point, but a lot would be excluded because of that entry criterion.

Councillor Ryan : Yes, certainly.

CHAIR: That is the evidence that we have heard all the way through here and when you have a program that is not really being subscribed to you need to ask the question why people are not able to access that. I think the people that need it the most, that are going to get the best benefit out of it, are excluded because they do not meet the criterion. It does not mean to say that they are not sustainable because they have been there for donkey's years. They made a wage and a living and they have been able to sustain that. I was just interested in your view.

I am also interested in what you see as impediments to diversification of tourism products in this region, to be able to increase and diversify. Tourism is a very important part. Other than the airlines which we have fairly and squarely on the radar, is there anything else there that you feel is an impediment to increasing, expanding and diversifying your industry?

Councillor Ryan : No, I do not have a strong view on that. Just to understand, we do not run tourism; that is done by another area. As a community we run an immense amount of events. We are building our economy on events. Events need people and the more of those events we keep promoting as a local government leads to those other things that we spoke about.

CHAIR: So you are looking at increasing events?

Councillor Ryan : We are always on the grow. We have the iconic Henley on Todd and the Bangtail Muster. They have 50 years under the belt. We recently had the Finke Desert Race where we had 7,000 people visit our community and the economic study showed $6 million into the town in a week. That has got 40 years. We have the Parrtjima Light Festival that is in its second year. We have got the Red Centre. We are forever reinventing events. Events are a very important part. There was even the quirky Beanie Festival recently. It is in its 21st year. Now, I am not sure how many people would be game enough to build a festival around a woollen cap that you put on your head, but it is an amazing event.

CHAIR: Can I say to you last night I saw a couple of very good examples when we went for a walk. Both of them are on my left. I think they were very interesting to see. I think you have two willing participants there.

Senator DODSON: Can I ask one question?


Senator DODSON: Just in relation to that, how is your infrastructure? Is it capable of meeting these sorts of throughputs of population and those maximum numbers when you get them? Will it be sufficient for say the next 15 or 20 years?

Councillor Ryan : We are short on hotel rooms going forward. We have always done pretty well with our other infrastructure if you look across our town. Today we host AFL premiership games and NRL games. We have big sporting bodies come here. We have big motorsports.

Senator DODSON: I am thinking more of your sewerage, water, power, electricity and those things.

Councillor Ryan : That is forever a moving feast. There is discussion around what capacity is left from this side of the range but there has also been development in housing. There is the new Kilgariff Estate to the southern part which is not an impediment to connect back to sewerage, so those are always being worked on.

Our next big infrastructure requirement in Central Australia is to understand our vulnerability to flooding. We are only one rainstorm away from an incident like Katherine. We have been lucky to date but we really need to waterproof the town. There has been a lot of discussion. There was a paper put together a year or so ago and it clearly needs the geographical understanding of the water flow from the north and working with local people—not the dam structure discussion that happened 25 years ago—working towards water retention basins so we can slow down the flow through here. We need to lower the causeways through the town because they have built up and the widening of the gap, which is a very emotive issue. All I ever talk about is the 34 metres of dirt we have put into the gap since I was a kid to hold up the railway line and the highway. I think we need to build that back in a bit. That is the major infrastructure that I see going forward.

Senator DODSON: Thank you.

Mr SNOWDON: What about telecommunications?

Councillor Ryan : We are in the process of rolling out NBN but I would not be able to tell you exactly where that is at.

Mr SNOWDON: I can tell you it is not really efficient. What about outside of the environment of Alice Springs? What about mobile coverage, for example?

Councillor Ryan : It is pretty poor. People experience that with disasters. The reality is that there is some work being done between the territory government and about 30 communities and Telstra going forward, but there needs to be a lot more work done in that. I think the people from the high population areas in Australia or in the rest of the world expect to be able to use a phone on whatever road they are on, and that will require a lot of infrastructure.

Mr SNOWDON: That is absolutely correct. You have mentioned the solar city issue. What about the potential for growth in ecotourism for this part of the country? You have got the West Macs and the Larapinta Trail. What about the additional possibilities of ecotourism?

Councillor Ryan : I think they are endless but, again, I will leave it to the tourism experts behind me.

Mr SNOWDON: You mentioned the hotels. What about restaurants? People come to town and they want to have a good feed. What is your view about the mall and the infrastructure that is in place? Are people attracted to it when they come in? What is the feedback from tourists when they visit the town and the amenity of it?

Councillor Ryan : We need more eating houses but we need to revitalise the CBD. One of those really is the discussion around the new art gallery, but there is also a commitment from the territory government. I think that there are some fantastic opportunities coming up in the CBD and we need to realise those. We have a lot of repeat visitors today who make comment on the cleanliness of the town now. As a local authority we forced the hand of the territory government to create container deposit legislation. We are only 35 years behind South Australia. One issue that we had a lot of here years ago was empty drink containers. That has been sorted. We are getting that side correct but we now need to get our vibrancy back into the CBD.

Mr SNOWDON: What about the international reputation of Alice Springs as a destination? We have heard previously that we are getting the bum rap for particular events. What is your understanding of what the international community, and indeed the national community, think of Alice Springs as a destination?

Councillor Ryan : With today's media we as a community need to continually point out the interesting facets of our town. Yes, we will be targeted. The most recent example was by a lazy journalist who looked up a two-year-old story and ran with it, which caused a lot of grief for the town. But the way social media is used today, with the marketing of #RedCentreNT or #Alice Springs or #NTAustralia, that is hugely important for us and more and more of the community use that. That is the only way you can build up that confidence back in your own community. That is what I believe.

Mr SNOWDON: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you very much indeed. Can I say, as far as eating houses are concerned, Krispy Kiwi across the road, I recommend it for their fish and their deep-fried bread rolls. They were good enough to eat and they will come across and deliver it here without even my asking for it, so you have got some good ones here.

Councillor Ryan : Thank you. I am wondering whether they will put your name up on the board as endorsed by.

CHAIR: Absolutely. Thank you very much indeed.

Councillor Ryan : Can I leave you with a copy of the Outback Way?

CHAIR: Yes, please.

Councillor Ryan : Thank you very much for the opportunity.