Forty years ago Alice Springs was presented with a choice …

Comment on Local government: A lot of action beyond the 3Rs by Alex Nelson.

Forty years ago Alice Springs was presented with a choice – a national museum about outback life in Australia, or a casino.
We lost the opportunity for the former but the NT Government, and many in the business community, thought a casino would be a great asset to complement The Alice’s then burgeoning tourism industry.
There was also considerable local opposition to the casino but the NT Government over-ruled these objections.
So Longreach ended up with the unique Stockman’s Hall of Fame – “nowhere else has one” – while Alice Springs got Australia’s first mainland casino (Tasmania got Wrest Point in 1973), quickly followed by Darwin and then every other capital city in the country, all of which (unlike Alice Springs) are serviced by international flights.
Once again we are confronted by a similar situation. We’ve got the National Road Transport Hall of Fame (nowhere else has one) but this major attraction for our town is on the verge of leaving, with a number of other centres reportedly clamouring to host it.
Meanwhile, even as we face the prospect of losing this major attraction, the NT Government is pushing ahead with a “National Iconic Indigenous Art Gallery”.
However, there is nothing to prevent all the major capital cities of Australia following suit with similar attractions, built at greater expense than we can afford for ours and far more readily accessible to visitors from overseas.
The current NT Labor Government is in grave danger of repeating history, making exactly the same kind of decisions that the new CLP Government made at the beginning of Self-Government 40 years ago, and leaving us with the bitter after-taste of missed opportunities and bungled priorities.
Nothing has changed.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Local government: A lot of action beyond the 3Rs
Sadly it would appear that Murray Bridge has just taken an enormous hit to its economy, with the news of a major industrial fire taking hold in the town’s abattoir.

Local government: A lot of action beyond the 3Rs
@ Leigh Childs (Posted December 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm): I’ve never been to Broken Hill but am certainly aware of that town’s approach to solving its problems, courtesy of Erwin Chlanda’s report published five years ago –
It’s perhaps not surprising that the National Road Transport Hall of Fame is considering its options in relocating from Alice Springs to Broken Hill.
Another place worth checking out for its efforts to rejuvenate its fortunes is Albany, WA, according to an article I read about three years ago.
More recently there was a very interesting report by Kieran Finnane about the effort being made to re-invigorate Katherine ( by that town’s CEO Robert Jennings, who I understand did make a presentation for the Alice Springs Town Council attended by some of our councillors.
There’s also the example provided by Domenico Pecorari about his home town of Petritoli in Italy (
There appears to be lots of examples of how towns of similar size to Alice Springs have or are succeeding in improving their economies and liveability.
However, for some reason Alice Springs, which has been wrestling with these issues for some decades now, seems peculiarly resistant to learning and adapting from all these other examples – but, crikey, we sure do like to argue about it!

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Turn rock-throwing into backflips: how community can help
I smile at the circularity of Rainer Chlanda’s preferred location of a youth hub without walls at the “courthouse lawns” (DD Smith Park), adjacent to the Alice Springs Police Station (the former Greatorex Building) and across the road from the local magistrates courthouse.
I say “circularity” because the first drop-in centre for youth on the streets at night was located in the old police station on that corner where the courthouse now stands. Established in 1976, it was named “Danny’s Place” and lasted all of no more than a year when it was forced to shut down to make way for the said courthouse.
And from that time on, youth drop-in centres, real or proposed, have bounced around from one site to another all through town; including an old house in the north end of Todd Street that was demolished to make way for an office block (now called Eurilpa House), the empty Turner Arcade – the last shop there was Grandad’s icecream shop, a once popular hang out for kids of my generation, also in the north end of Todd Mall (that was my suggestion, nearly 30 years ago) which was later bulldozed to make way for expanding Alice Plaza and new carparking spaces; and even the abandoned waterslide site in the early 1990s, which instead was demolished to make way for infill real estate development (Mercorella Circuit, near the YMCA).
We have decades of recent history of kids in trouble (or causing it) being shunted from pillar to post. As a society, history shows we’re not really fair dinkum about resolving this issue.
Sadly, there is nothing new in any of this – Rainer’s father and his colleagues were reporting on these kinds of issues 40 plus years ago, and it continues unabated to the present day.

Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ 5 Minute Local (Posted June 14, 2018 at 5:41 pm): Definitely living up to your pseudonym. Your suggestion is not a new idea – it’s been raised several times since the early 1970s.
The last occasion was when the construction of the railway north to Darwin was being finalised in the late 1990s-early 2000s when there was significant lobbying of the NT Government to re-route the railway around Alice Springs, including by the Alice Springs Town Council.
I also took up the cudgels on this issue as an individual and was publicly criticized by a local CLP member, notwithstanding the same member several years earlier had himself advocated the removal of the rail yards out of the town centre and to re-route the eventual railway to Darwin via west of the town.
These pleas were rejected by the government as being too late or too expensive (it would have added about three per cent to the overall cost, from memory). There’s no prospect of this happening now.

Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ John Bell (Posted June 13, 2018 at 7:51 pm): John, the only sacred trees on the Melanka site would be (or are) two old river red gums near the southeast corner adjacent to the intersection of Stuart Terrace and Gap Road.
None of the other trees I’m aware of on that site are local native species nor predate the construction of the Melanka Hostel.
This includes the towering lemon-scented gums of which the majority are now dying or dead as a consequence of lack of care and the extended dry conditions.
Consequently the trees don’t pose any significant issues for redevelopment of most of that area, at least as far as sacred sites are concerned.

Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ Hal Duell (Posted June 12, 2018 at 7:59 am): Hal, I’m still in the process of collating information. Gathering the history pertaining to this location is rather like measuring a piece of string but it all adds up to demonstrating the considerable heritage value of this site, the extent of which I think will surprise many people.
The nomination for heritage listing of the oval and school will definitely proceed.
The fact that this issue has blown up in the NT Government’s face demonstrates the stupidity of over-reliance on advice from vested interests (with no regard for anything except their bank accounts) and overpaid outside “experts” who have no background in local knowledge.
Once again we see the consequences of the corporate amnesia that afflicts this town and Territory, and history shows it makes no difference which party is in power.

Cemeteries could be turned into parks
There is another method of burying the dead which is also held to be environmentally friendly, it is called “promession”.
According to the Wikipedia entry on this subject, it’s a system of disposal of bodies of much more recent origin (two decades ago) than alkaline hydrolysis (19th century).
It involves cryogenic freezing of bodies in liquid nitrogen to -196°C (in effect, crystallising them) after which vibrations are applied that shatter them in minutes into fragments.
This material in turn is freeze dried and all metal or other non-natural components (eg. fillings, artifical joints) are removed.
The final stage involves “the dry powder being placed in a biodegradable casket which is interred in the top layers of soil, where aerobic bacteria decompose the remains into humus in as little as 6 to 12 months.”
Invented in Sweden, it’s a method already expressly adopted in South Korea and has expressions of interest from up to 60 other countries.
I think promession also deserves consideration as an option for burials.

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