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

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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