Hal, this is just the latest attempt to re-purpose Anzac …

Comment on A good spot for the art gallery? by Alex Nelson.

Hal, this is just the latest attempt to re-purpose Anzac Oval as a village green, first proposed by the Alice Springs Town Council in 1979 and firmly resisted by the rugby codes (and especially by John Reeves, then ALP Alice Springs branch president, rugby league president, elected as alderman on the town council, and not long afterwards elected as Member for the Northern Territory. He is now a Federal Court judge.).
The village green concept was tried again in 1994 when the ASTC attempted to relocate the rugby codes to the Ross Park Oval, enticed there by the promise of lighting to facilitate games at night; and stoutly resisted and defeated by local Eastside residents, led by the Eastside Residents’ Association of which I was then a committee member.
And now here we go again …
Quite apart from the old high school complex, Anzac Oval itself is of considerable historical value as it is the first turfed sports oval in the NT and it was established entirely as a community effort over the summer of 1951-52 – no government assistance involved.
Part of that work was done by the town’s children who were organised by the new Youth Centre into an emu parade on one weekend that cleared the whole area of rocks and sticks.
Ah yes, the bad old days of Commonwealth control.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

A good spot for the art gallery?
A follow-up to my previous comment, I’m informed that the asbestos has been removed from the old Anzac Hill High School complex so that is not an issue for the use of those buildings.
I’ve no doubt that old school site is of considerable historical importance to Alice Springs. Nothing should be done to remove them until that history is assessed. There should be no return to the situation that existed in our town in the 1980s, which in fact was the origin of heritage protection legislation in the Northern Territory.


A good spot for the art gallery?
@ Hal Duell (Posted March 10, 2018 at 10:53 am): It probably is the case there is asbestos in the buildings, Hal, but the place has been in use for a variety of roles since its construction in 1952 and I’ve never heard of anyone contracting asbestosis from that place or any other of similar age in Alice Springs.
I’m rather suspicious that asbestos is suddenly being raised now, it’s strongly reminiscent of the “concrete cancer” that became the excuse for the demolition of the legendary Hotel Darwin in 1999.
Hmm, are we witnessing history repeating – the old CLP regime overseeing the destruction of a city centre landmark in Darwin almost 20 years ago, and the current Labor government seeking to do the same for a historically valuable education landmark in Alice Springs? (Maybe it’s relevant to note the CLP government in 1999 had 18 members, as does the current Labor government. Warning! That big majority didn’t save the CLP from losing office for the first time at the next Territory elections in 2001).
The fact is the old Alice Springs Upper Primary School cum original Alice Springs High School cum Community College of Central Australia cum Anzac Hill High School complex is in remarkably good – and I note there is some use being made of it at present, too.


A good spot for the art gallery?
@ Maya (Posted March 9, 2018 at 11:00 am): I’m with you, Maya, that is precisely the right purpose for that old school complex. It’s also not far from St Philip’s College which is in the process of acquiring the defunct RSL Club so there seems to me to be great potential to integrate services and opportunities for the benefit of these children and our community.
I think everybody is fed up to the back teeth with the lack of progress in resolving these decades-long problems of intergenerational youth crime and mayhem. NT Self-Government has proven no better (and demonstrably considerably worse) than the popularly maligned Commonwealth era of control of Territory affairs in tackling these issues.
I believe most of us are not interested in grandiose, big bucks projects of dubious merit – we’ve gone down this pathway a number of times previously and the track record of fulfilling economic nirvana that governments entice us with to support these schemes invariably falls well short of ambition.
The Government’s highest priority (and I don’t care which party is in control) must focus on the children and youth, because if we can get that right everything else will follow.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Why aren’t people listening to us? 
@ Kevin (Posted September 25, 2018 at 9:58 pm): It was the local rugby league that fought to stay at Anzac Oval in 1979-81 – in fact, it even attracted the support of national sports publication Rugby League Week which came in swinging against the Alice Springs Town Council.
The local ALP also fought to keep rugby league at Anzac Oval, especially John Reeves which enabled him to win a town council by-election and subsequently the federal election campaign as Member for the Northern Territory.
In the mid 1990s, rugby league agreed to move to Ross Park Oval where rugby union was based, too. However, after the town council elections of 1996 when two sitting aldermen lost their seats over this issue, the decision was swiftly reversed by the new council and rugby union went to Anzac Oval.
The Eastside Residents Association had strong support from local CLP members Richard Lim and Eric Poole. Lim organised a large public rally against the town council; and Poole, the Minister for Central Australian Affairs, declared that no funds from the NT Government would be made available to assist the town council’s plans.
The ALP Opposition Leader, Brian Ede, also supported the Eastside Residents Association in its dispute with the town council.


Why aren’t people listening to us? 
I attended the public rally held on the lawn outside the Civic Centre but initially wasn’t going to stay for the council meeting. I changed my mind and am glad I did, for a good deal of what I heard last night was a revelation to me.
My position on this issue is obvious but it was most reassuring to hear the strong opinions voiced by many people who made it clear and unequivocal that the NT Government – and whoever it is that has persuaded the government – has got this issue well and truly wrong.
This is the third attempt in four decades to repurpose the use of Anzac Oval as a “village green” cum open space, and relocate rugby to another oval.
Both previous attempts were made by the Alice Springs Town Council.
In 1979-81, rugby league was going to be moved to the new Head Street (Rhonda Diano) Oval; and in 1994-96 there was a protracted struggle between the town council and the Eastside Residents Association (of which I was a member) over relocating rugby league to Ross Park Oval.
On both occasions there was overwhelming public opposition to the town council’s plans, and the council lost.
Now it’s the turn of the NT Government attempting the same arrogant approach – well, all that the government has succeeded in doing is to stir up the hornets’ nest once more.
History convincingly shows how this struggle will end.


Preaching ‘treading carefully’ then sending in the bulldozers
@ Russell Grant (Posted September 24, 2018 at 11:00 pm): Quite so, Russell, and that area included the property of the Arid Zone Research Institute of which the area now occupied by Kilgariff was once a part.
The original dust control effort at AZRI was divided between the Soil Conservation Unit of the former Conservation Commission of the NT and the Institute’s farm management of the Primary Industry Branch/Department. It was the farm management of AZRI that undertook the dust control work in the southwest area of the property, including Kilgariff.
What’s happening there now is taxpayer-funded, government sanctioned vandalism on a grand scale that beggars anything we’ve seen (and criticised) for years on private rural properties.
The hypocrisy of contemporary NT government policy implementation is simply staggering.


‘Save Anzac Oval’ motion defeated
The current government continuously attempts to mask or deflect attention of its ineptitude by making constant reference to the previous CLP regime. It doesn’t wash – it’s just business as usual, regardless of which party is in power.
Right now there is significant evidence across the nation of most people fundamentally disillusioned with government at all levels, party politics, and (most worrisome) even with democracy. The behaviour we’re witnessing from the NT Government now (and from its predecessors) amply illustrates why this is happening.
Most people have had enough. Large numbers in parliament will not provide sufficient buffers against voter anger anymore.


Town planning farce: Lawler dodges the hard questions
This encounter instantly reminded me of a passage in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” when Winston Smith followed an old man into a pub with the intention of finding out from him what life was like before the revolution that led to the rise of Big Brother.
Yet no matter how earnestly he asked the old man to recall the early years of his life, “Winston had the feeling they were talking at cross-purposes.”
He kept on prodding the old man for information but “a sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old man’s memory was nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day without getting any real information.”
Plying the old man with beer, he tried one more time but failed: “Winston sat back against the window sill. It was no use going on. He was about to buy some more beer when the old man suddenly got up and shuffled rapidly into the stinking urinal at the side of the room. The extra half-litre was already working on him. Winston sat for a minute or two gazing at his empty glass, and hardly noticed when his feet carried him out into the street again.”
Welcome to the Big Brother reality of honest accountable government in the Northern Territory!


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