Anzac Oval: hand it over, says NT Government

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Above: Residents mostly opposed a change of use at Anzac Oval, attending the last Town Council meeting.


The Territory Government will not discuss any alternative sites for its proposed national Aboriginal art gallery  with the Town Council, it has told council in a letter today, asking that “they now work with us on transitioning this site [Anzac Oval] to one owner, being the Northern Territory Government”.


The letter makes no mention of outstanding native title issues in relation to the precinct.


“We believe that, for this project to be progressed at this site, it is critical that it is treated as a single site with a single owner.


“We have informed the Council that the Northern Territory Government is not seeking to enter into further discussion about alternative sites as we believe that this matter has been widely canvassed and considered by the community – firstly via the Expert Steering Committee and then through two rounds of community engagement and consultation.”


The Expert Steering Committee did not recommend the Anzac precinct site, only the Desert Park, but the government’s letter does not allude to this.  Instead it says:


p2570 NAAG Moss & Wakefield 430“In making the decision about putting the Gallery at Anzac Precinct, we considered the Expert Steering Committee’s criteria for a cultural institution of this significance, including size requirements, connection to landscape, amenity and accessibility.


Left: Tourism and Culture Minister Lauren Moss and Braitling MLA Dale Wakefield, releasing their consultation report.


“This decision is also in keeping with significant community feedback that the Gallery is best located in the CBD in order to put Aboriginal art and culture at the centre of the community and to maximise the economic, social and cultural benefits of this project for the people who reside in Alice Springs.


“We have reiterated to Council that the master plan for this site will include considerable open green space for events and community enjoyment and ample car parking. We recognise the historic and cultural significance of the site to many local people and this will be reflected in the master plan. The master plan will be developed in consultation with the community.


“Additionally we confirm the Government’s commitment to developing a new home for rugby league and rugby union at an alternative site, subject to transitioning the Anzac Precinct site to one owner, being the Northern Territory Government. We ask that the Council and the rugby codes works with us on developing this new home.


“We have also heard clearly from many conversations with Aboriginal stakeholders, that in building an internationally significant art gallery showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from around the country, we also need to do more to elevate and celebrate the voice of the Arrernte people of Mparntwe.  In coming weeks, we will be presenting to the community a range of initiatives that will seek to do that.


“It will include establishing a Cultural Community Reference Group, which will help to guide cultural protocols in relation to the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and work with us on better elevating and recognising Arrernte art, culture and heritage within Mparntwe and its environs.”


This month’s Town Council’s committee meetings are scheduled for the coming Monday, 15 October.



Sources: NT Government media release dated 12 October 2018; Alice Springs News Online reporting.



UPDATE 5.05pm


Central Land Council communications manager Elke Wiesmann says the Anzac Oval is freehold and owned by the Alice Springs Town Council. The site was not included in the native title determination.


The Alice Springs News Online is seeking clarification about the native title status of the Anzac Highschool site, which is part of the proposed gallery location. We understand it is government land.


The town’s native title organisation Lhere Artepe said yesterday: “There is no statutory role for Lhere Artepe at the moment and no proposal has been put to negotiate Indigenous Land Use Agreement or to extinguish native title for the purpose of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery.”



UPDATE 5.50pm


Leader of the Opposition, Gary Higgins, has issued the following statement.


The threat of compulsory acquisition of the land that Labor has deceitfully decided is the location for the gallery is the last measure of a government desperate to get its way.


Should the government arrogantly proceed down this track the matter could be caught up in the court for years.


This will mean South Australia will benefit from this government’s pig headed approach.


Labor has failed the Territory on this project, commencing with their dismissal of their own expert steering committee’s recommendation on location.


This whole saga, like the Pinelands debacle, reinforces the bully-boy tactics now being employed by the Labor government, devoid of genuine consultation or appreciation of community views.


Labor’s failure to genuinely consult with key stakeholders, including the Alice Springs Town Council and its blatant disregard for community concerns will be the failing of this project.


The Minister is wasting everyone’s time with a fake and flawed consultation process that simply reinforces the disregard she has for those Territorians who stand to be affected.


The so-called open and transparent Labor government sent its long winded statement on Friday afternoon, clearly hoping to pass its heavy handed approach under the radar.


Territorians are smarter than that.




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9 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. GBC
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    If the council roll over on this one they can all resign and close the council down, they are not needed.
    Should the “gumit” come up with firm plans and proposals I could even think about supporting the whole concept however the “plans” as proposed and shown to date, a few lines drawn up by some school kid is far from what one may expect to be suitable for a national building in Alice Springs.
    In any event, if the government was private enterprise they would be closed down for trading insolvent.
    They just keep spending our money as if there is plenty to come, the final day of reckoning is getting closer, the debt will never be repaid.

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  2. InterestedDarwinObserver
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

    The art gallery is small fish. What ever happened to the incredible world class cultural centre? Seems to have disappeared into thin air.

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  3. Kenneth
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Dale is on suicide-mode for the next election. That is in this regard and her failure as a minister.

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  4. Watch'n
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 4:33 am

    Build it and they will come.
    Perhaps that’s the hope anyway.
    Where would the town be without Desert Park?….

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  5. Brett Galt-Smith
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    I’m not hearing any mention whatsoever of the gallery outside the NT.
    I truly hope it attracts many visitors, but it troubles me that it has no national profile, yet so many hopes are riding on it.
    Alice is talking to itself about the gallery, and now it’s time to start talking to the rest of the country if it’s to be truly national.

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  6. Pedantic Possum
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    I haven’t really been following this and google has been no help – why is Anzac Oval the only site being considered when it seems to be unpopular? Surely there are other sites the gallery could be built on?

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  7. Posted October 13, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    @ Hal Duell (Posted October 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm):My personal opinion is that I think you’re on the money with your suggestion about the NT Government’s motives, Hal.

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    So much for those wanting a seat at the table. Looks like pretty thin fare to me.
    This raises another question. Every move CM Gunner has made on this issue has been to dictate divisive non-options. We know the NT Government is heavily in debt and probably lacks the funds to build this gallery. So has that been his plan all along? Has he intentionally queered it to get out of an election promise and push the onus of its failure onto the ASTC?

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  9. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted October 12, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Anzac oval does not belong to the council, but to the ratepayers.
    The council is only the representative of the residents, and have to bow to the wishes of the community.
    The threat of compulsory acquisition of the land is a sign of weakness: “I will win at all costs rather that admit I was wrong.”
    If the ratepayers are the landholders of the oval, we have the right to object on the grounds that we feel the proposal is better located elsewhere and that proper process has not been followed.
    What a waste of time, energy, money. I believe this government, which tries to be in charge, could not run a business. It will be quite bankrupt.

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