Exactly as anticipated all along. …

Comment on Old Melanka site for sale – again by Alex Nelson.

Exactly as anticipated all along.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Old Melanka site for sale – again
Yes, the NT Government sold an existing property to the private sector which was originally financed by the Commonwealth and constructed under contract by Barclay Brothers, a Queensland firm (the same construction company also built the Commonwealth-financed redevelopment of the Alice Springs Hospital from 1972).
There were various alterations to Melanka over the years but it was essentially the original building complex built by the Commonwealth.
The only “contribution” the private sector has made to this site is to demolish nearly a decade ago what was a functioning property and asset to the tourism industry and the town’s economy, and replaced it with a vacant lot used as a de facto carpark overshadowed by deteriorating and dying trees, a sad left-over from the Melanka days.
This grand achievement is a result of the visionaries of our commercial sector who have all too often blighted Alice Springs with other empty lots and various properties that have long been propped up by government rent, in the vain expectation of superior developments that obviously don’t stack up.
Since the ideology of economic rationalism gained prominence in the 1980s we’ve long been sold on the notion that the private sector is inherently more efficient than government in generating and maintaining economic development.
Alice Springs provides a convincing example that this approach is deeply flawed, and the Melanka site is spectacularly symbolic of this realization.


Old Melanka site for sale – again
Stott House is where my parents first met. It was a government employees hostel which was originally established by the military during WW 2.
The Commonwealth replaced Stott and Todd Houses with the Melanka Lodge, officially opened in 1971.
As Australia’s national economy began to deteriorate after 1979, the Fraser Government’s “razor gang” ceased funding for Commonwealth hostel accommodation for public servants, and control of Melanka was transferred to the NT Government in 1981.
In turn the NT Government leased Melanka to private operators.
This short history shows that there has never been any major private sector development of that site – and it’s clear that will most likely remain the case.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

CLP propaganda courtesy of a Senate office?
Lobbying for sealing the south Stuart Highway began in 1953 when the Alice’s first tourism association was formed.
Bob Rumball raised the subject and former Brigadier, Noel “Tommy” Loutit, made the first representation to the Federal Government about it.
The south Stuart Highway was finally sealed in 1987, so it took 34 years to achieve.
To my knowledge, the first call for upgrading and sealing the Plenty Highway and Tanami Road was made by the newly elected Member for Stuart, Tony Greatorex, in July 1966.
In the following month a similar call was made for the Petermann Road (now in part the Lasseter Highway) by a touring party from WA.
So that was 52 years ago – over half a century – and still counting.
The current “Outback Way” effort was preceded by the “Reef to Rock” campaign that began in 1984 and carried on into the 1990s, especially under former Mayor, Andy McNeill.
The Member for the Northern Territory was granted full voting rights in Federal Parliament in 1968 (that was Sam Calder in his first term) and we got two senators in 1975.
Seems to me a case can be made that getting this increased Federal representation has not resulted in any significant advantages for Central Australia over this time.


‘Anzac Oval not for sale’: govt under pressure on gallery plans
I will simply point out to everyone concerned that the old school complex at the north end of Anzac Oval has by far the greatest heritage value of any school campus in the Northern Territory – repeat, the Northern Territory.
I have come to this conclusion after months of gathering information, commencing well before the end of last year.
It would be unconscionable for the NT Government to proceed with any development on this site without first undertaking a properly independent and professional assessment of the history and heritage values of this location, including genuine public consultation.
This has not happened.
If this Government decides to proceed with this developnment in disregard of the heritage values of the old school site, it will lose all credibility that it may currently have and demonstrate it cannot be regarded as any better than its predecessors in office.


Youth crisis: broken window of tolerance
This is a brilliant article, Rainer, a valuable contribution to public discourse that will stand the test of time.
Much of what you have written has been observed before, and much of what you describe is instantly recognisable from the time of my own childhood here in Alice Springs.
However, when I was young there was a sense of the corner having been turned when the NT achieved Self-government and there was great hope for the future. Things were about to change for the better for everyone.
I feel a sense of deep disappointment combined with great anger that nothing has improved for so many people in the Territory, and generation after generation of young people born here find themselves “coping” in life conditions no better – and, in many cases, far worse – than the supposedly “bad old days” of Commonwealth control.
It’s equally profoundly disappointing that the energy and intellect of young people such as yourself, Rainer, are left to pick up the pieces of a failed legacy of earlier generations.
But it’s wonderful that you are doing so, and that’s why hope survives.


Alice may follow Wadeye’s lead on street kids
This seems to me to be precisely the concept that Maya suggested and I supported for the old high school at Anzac Oval.
Today comes the news of increased GST cutbacks to the Northern Territory but the NT Government seems hell-bent on spending taxpayers’ dollars it’s not going to have on capital works projects both here and in Darwin that are not supported by the majority of people (VOTERS).
In the NT election campaign of 1977, virtually a referendum on impending Self-Government, Labor’s slogan was “First things first – statehood comes later.”
In this year of the 40th anniversary of Self-Government, I say “First things first – focus on the kids.” Forget about underground carparks for public servants, four-lane boulevards cutting through public parks, a new museum to compete against MAGNT, or a national indigenous art gallery on the wrong site.
We all need to get our priorities straight, not least the NT Government.


Art gallery: Door slammed on Desert Park
There are two old river red gums at the corner of the Melanka site near the intersection of Stuart Terrace and Todd Street. These trees are very old and probably predate European settlement.
The remainder, by contrast, are much younger.
They were most likely planted in the early or mid 1970s, after the construction of the Melanka hostel.
They are not local native species. Several are in poor health or have died, their decline due to their abandonment since the demolition of Melanka.


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