It’s ironic enough that a women’s museum finds itself in …

Comment on The gaolers and the gaoled: new exhibition by Alex Nelson.

It’s ironic enough that a women’s museum finds itself in an old gaol but it’s all the more so given its appearance previously in an old courthouse.
The NPWHF’s occupancy of the Old Gaol highlights the long term chronic incoherence of the NT Government’s approach to heritage issues in Alice Springs, regardless of political persuasion.
When the NT Government (then CLP) announced in 1991 that a new gaol would be constructed south of Alice Springs, the initial intention was to preserve the Old Gaol. I suggested that the Spencer and Gillen Museum might be relocated there (subsequent to my earlier suggestion it be moved to the Araluen Centre complex), given that the NT Government had announced its imminent closure at the (then) Ford Plaza in April that year. My idea was enthusiastically supported by Roger Vale, the Minister for Tourism.
During the NT election campaign of 1994, the ALP promised to build a new home for the NPWHF at the Araluen Centre (reported in the Alice Springs News).
The CLP had a change of heart about the Old Gaol, deciding to demolish it to make way for hospital extensions and real estate infill development that had become all the rage in Alice Springs during the 1990s. While controversy raged over the fate of the Old Gaol, the NT Government also made plans to relocate the Spencer and Gillen Museum to the Strehlow Research Centre at the Araluen complex. The new Central Australian Museum was officially opened in August 1999, in conditions that have compromised the integrity of both the museum and the SRC.
Amongst those prominent in the clash to save the Old Gaol were Labor MLA, Peter Toyne, and then Alderman Fran Kilgariff (she was elected as mayor in 2000).
Yet when another heritage controversy erupted a few years later over the fate of the heritage-listed Rieff Building they were conspicuous by their absence.
Notwithstanding that the NT Heritage Council not once but twice affirmed the heritage significance of the Rieff Building, the Labor Government overturned its listing which was enabled by legislation passed by the previous CLP administration in the wake of its failure to destroy the Old Gaol.
The Rieff Building was destroyed in 2006, the same year the NPWHF was relocated to the Old Gaol (much to the dismay of its founder Molly Clark, I’m told). The opening of the NPWHF in its new home was supported with great fanfare from the NT Government, which announced that “The hall of fame will be the centrepiece of a first-of-its-kind tourism marketing plan for Central Australia” – a plan which subsequently fell into obscurity.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Student boarding funding restored – for now
Isn’t that something? A minister of the NT Government has listened to concerns about a government decision, and reversed it in a day.
Little aggravation, and great relief for many, I should think.
Minister Selena Uibo has set a fine example – now, if only certain others of her colleagues would take notice of public concern about the NT Government’s poor decision-making over the location of the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery…


Remains of missing man found near Yambah
@ John Bell (Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:21 pm): The skeleton was identified, a young man only recently arrived in Alice Springs in 1965. It’s believed he was a victim of an accidental discharge of his rifle, not a suicide.


Ring a bell?
Is it just me, or is it the case that the “Boundless Possible” embarrassment has suffered a swift death, consigned quietly to the wheelie bin of history?
Ah yes, a government elected into office that promised us all greater standards of honesty and accountability; but no, it’s just business as usual, that we’ve long endured for decades in the Northern Territory.
It really makes no difference who’s in charge.


Four dogs suspected poisoned with 1080
@ Ruth Weston (Posted September 7, 2018 at 1:08 pm): Sodium fluoroacetate is the commercially produced 1080 poison, and is closely related to potassium fluoroacetate, the poisonous chemical found in a wide variety of plant species.
Both chemicals have the same effect, disrupting the Krebs Cycle (or Citric Acid Cycle) which disrupts the ability of cells to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy production.
It was biochemist Ray Murray, based in Alice Springs with the Animal Industry Branch from 1954 to 1966, who first identified the naturally occurring 1080-based compound that occurs sporadically in poison Gidgee (Acacia georginae) which plagued the beef cattle industry in the east of Central Australia and across the Queensland border.


Stagnant CBD; industrial land, rental shortage; houses hold
The photo caption “The ANZ Bank has relocated from this prime Todd Street North site, opposite the Visitor Centre, to Gregory Terrace” serves – perhaps inadvertently – to emphasise the “moving of deckchairs” in the CBD, as the Visitor Centre itself was relocated to its present site a few years ago from its former Gregory Terrace location adjacent to the Civic Centre … and that particular building, the former Queen Elizabeth II Infant Welfare Clinic, that was heavily modified and opened to great fanfare in 1997 as the new Visitor Centre, remains steadfastly vacant.
Aside from the shift of the ANZ Bank (which, incidentally, opened its doors on its former Parsons Street site in August 1962, exactly 56 years ago) and the recent Wicked Kneads shop on the opposite corner now up for sale, there has also been the closure recently of two nearby hairdresser businesses, too – one of which was for sale for a long time but obviously attracted no serious interest.
Just yesterday, walking along Gregory Terrace, I was shocked to see “For lease” notices plastering the windows of La Casalinga restaurant, a long-standing business in this town and even something of an institution.
This town has weathered significant economic downturns on previous occasions – the mid 1970s, the late 1980s and early 1990s – but I’ve never seen the relocation of so many businesses (the “shifting of deckchairs”) on such a scale as has been occurring in recent years. It’s quite a phenomenon.
This situation is concurrent with the only significant new developments – the Green Well Building in Bath Street and the multi-storey Supreme Court building in Parsons Street – being occupied by government departments and instrumentalities, to the detriment of existing commercial lease stock in town. These developments, along with the re-opening of Todd Street North to traffic again, have done nothing to arrest the decline of the CBD, notwithstanding all the hype and propaganda of government and the private sector arguing in support of them.
Recent history quite clearly shows that the proposed National Indigenous Art Gallery will prove NOT to be the economic nirvana for this town. Exactly the same rationale was given for the developments of the casino almost four decades ago, the major hotel developments in the 1980s and the Alice Springs Desert Park in the 1990s – clearly none of these institutions, either on their own or altogether, have assisted in averting the current decline of our town, and there is no reason or evidence to show that the gallery will prove to be any different.
On the contrary, it will be yet another expensive long-term burden for the taxpayer to bear.


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