NT government criticised over appointments

Issue 

By Adriaan Anarco-Troika

DARWIN — The chief political reporter for the Murdoch-owned Northern TerritoryNews, Frank Alcorta, is being criticised for accepting a $20,000 commission from the CLP government to write a book.

The "coffee table" book is part of events planned for next year's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.

It is being suggested that Alcorta has opened himself up to the charge of a conflict of interest. Alcorta, in an article in the NT News, said, "the insinuation was my journalistic career had been corrupted by accepting money from the government to write a book".

-2>No tenders or expressions of interest were sought for the book. Chief Minister Marshall Perron said Alcorta was selected because of his rapid writing skills. So rapid, it was reported Alcorta was able to complete a draft in just 12 days.0>

Well-known Territory historian Peter Forest has criticised Alcorta's acclaimed rapid writing skills. A memo from Forrest to a senior advisor to the chief minister said the draft was "seriously unbalanced" with "numerous errors". It went on to say the work was "dull, even tedious" and overflowing with "tortured language".

Forrest's memo continued, "The final chapters are particularly weak and any reader who gets that far will close the book with the Churchillian reflection that never in the history of descriptive writing have so many cliches been employed to say so little."

Cynical readers of Alcorta's political opinions in the NT News whisper that Alcorta is appreciated by the CLP government, and the commission is a gesture that the government is pleased with his articles.n