@ Mark Wilson (Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:27 am): …

Comment on Fossil museum set to return to the CBD by Alex Nelson.

@ Mark Wilson (Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:27 am): There are several points to pick up on from your comment, Mark:
• The history of the Museum of Central Australia runs thus: the original display of natural history objects (for example, specimens of wildlife) was at the Arid Zone Research Institute in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as I recall just inside and to the right of the main entrance to the then brand new office complex – where the main administration offices are now. This was a temporary arrangement pending the construction of a dedicated natural history museum. In December 1973 the Whitlam Government transferred control of The Residency to the Museums and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) where a range of natural history items were on display, together with research facilities in very cramped conditions. The Residency also was used for art displays and continued to function for official receptions (which led to the unfortunate occasion in 1977 when Prince Charles and other dignitaries suffered poisoning as a consequence of food preparation undertaken in the same room where animal specimens underwent taxidermy preparations).
In late 1987 the museum was transferred to a new and expansive space on the upper floor of the new Ford Plaza (now Alice Plaza), it was rebadged “The Spencer and Gillen Museum”. This didn’t come without controversy, as the Department of Social Security had originally applied for this space but was rejected as the developers didn’t want Aboriginal clientele in the building (they were quite frank about this). Consequently there were protests at the official opening of the new museum in March 1988.
Unfortunately the Spencer and Gillen Museum suffered from poor visitation. During a national museums conference held there in April 1991, the NT Government announced the pending closure of the Spencer and Gillen Museum (this was the same month that the government’s Expenditure Review Committee announced sweeping cutbacks right across the board for the NT Public Service). I suggested at the time to the minister responsible for museums, Mike Reed, that the government should consider relocating the museum to the Araluen Art Centre precinct, perhaps with the new Strehlow Research Centre (SRC). However, the museum remained in Alice Plaza until its lease ran out in 1998 whereupon it was indeed transferred across to the SRC, officially opened there in August 1999 and where it remains to this day. Unfortunately this is a very unsatisfactory arrangement for both the SRC and the museum.
The proposal now to relocate the fossil display to a vacant premise in Todd Mall is a very short-sighted stop-gap measure that shows a marked lack of understanding and appreciation by the Department of Tourism and Culture of the museum’s true potential – it’s a very poor decision.
• I agree with your observations in relation to the Mayor’s comments on radio recently attributing the difficulty of filling empty retail space due to competition from online purchases. The fact is that there has been difficulty in filling empty shop spaces since Todd Mall opened in late 1987 (and even earlier, as the construction of the mall also disrupted trade). This was long before online purchases became a reality. The new mall immediately suffered from crime and vandalism (this problem was front page news two months after the mall’s official opening) and high rents from landlords also became a public issue in 1988. These problems came to the fore almost exactly 30 years ago and nothing has changed since that time.
• Your final point about the cost of air travel to the Centre is correct. It’s interesting to note that amongst the recommendations of the HKF Report into Central Australia’s tourism industry released in late 1969, two points of relevance stand out: first, the report made the first suggestion to convert Todd Street into a pedestrian mall; second, it was recommended to relocate the international airport from Darwin to Alice Springs. This was a time when Central Australia was by far the greatest tourist destination in the whole of the Northern Territory.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Party full throttle in battle against fracking
It’s time to end our reliance on the notion of political parties.
What we need in our parliaments and assemblies are elected individuals of integrity and competence, who can negotiate and cooperate with one another to provide the best standard of governance for all.
The evidence built up over many years demonstrates that political parties cannot be relied upon for the provision of good government.
They may start off well intentioned but inevitably end up being captured by powerful vested interests that equate their own aims to the public good.
I think it’s well overdue that another approach towards government and administration is given serious consideration.


When 20% royalties shrivel to as little as 1%
With such an apparently paltry return on investment, we’re effectively told these extractive industries are constantly marginally profitable at best.
We are expected to believe this errant nonsense.
Under the section of Powers of the Parliament, the Australian Constitution commands: “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and GOOD GOVERNMENT (my emphasis) of the Commonwealth with respect to” a range of powers.
The Northern Territory Government, being a creature of Commonwealth legislation, is under the same constitutional obligations.
I contend that being ripped off by mining and extractive industry corporations, with no real oversight or scrutiny of their claims for production costs, does not qualify as “good government.”
Equally, a Territory government that is plunging its economy into a financial abyss, and a Federal Government that permits this to happen with no apparent concern or regard for oversight of this economic mismanagement, cannot be construed as “good government”.
We are being (and have long been) systematically betrayed by our respective Territory and Commonwealth Parliaments.
Our system of governance is simply not being adequately held to account.


More to come?
For those who haven’t heard, Christmas Day set a new maximum temperature record at the Alice Springs Airport, reaching 45.7C which exceeded the previous record (45.6C) set in January this year and recently equalled in December.
The previous highest temperature record at the airport was recorded in January 1960.
It’s a sign of the times that reaching maximum temperatures around the 40C mark feels like a cool change!
We continue to be on track to smash the lowest annual rainfall record for the Alice Springs Airport which, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Daily Rainfall figures, stands at 53.4mm for the year – well down on the previous record driest year of 2009, and then 1965 (last year of the infamous 1960s drought).
This figure accords with a couple of records from private residences in town, both slightly above 50mm in total for the year; so it’s odd that the BOM recently stated on ABC radio that the total rainfall for the year in Alice Springs is 66mm – perhaps someone from the BOM can explain this discrepancy?
However, the news this morning is that the Positive Indian Ocean Dipole, the cause of our heatwaves, is breaking down at last.
It will be interesting to see how far the pendulum swings this time, in comparison to similar abrupt switches in weather one and two decades ago, respectively (see my comment).


Government corporation bids for Kilgariff Two
“Asked why the advertisement was published 12 days before Christmas, with the closing date the day after a Friday Boxing Day, the spokesman said the application was advertised “at the first opportunity … in accordance with the Department’s normal procedure”.
Now ain’t that the truth – “the Department’s normal procedure” over the summer holiday break, as has been in practice by agencies of the NT Government for decades.
Open, honest and accountable government, anyone?


Gas and solar: Still uneasy bedfellows
Stumbled across this article yesterday on The Conversation published a few months ago, reporting on US research into this problem.
The proposed solution is counterintuitive, to “overprovide” renewable energy infrastructure (solar and wind), with excess energy into the system essentially “discarded”.
While this project was confined to the state of Minnesota, asked if this model is specific to the US situation or can be applied elsewhere such as Australia, the reply was that it is universal.
Maybe some food for thought for our circumstances in the Centre.


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