It’s ironic enough that a women’s museum finds itself in …

Comment on The gaolers and the gaoled: new exhibition by Alex Nelson.

It’s ironic enough that a women’s museum finds itself in an old gaol but it’s all the more so given its appearance previously in an old courthouse.
The NPWHF’s occupancy of the Old Gaol highlights the long term chronic incoherence of the NT Government’s approach to heritage issues in Alice Springs, regardless of political persuasion.
When the NT Government (then CLP) announced in 1991 that a new gaol would be constructed south of Alice Springs, the initial intention was to preserve the Old Gaol. I suggested that the Spencer and Gillen Museum might be relocated there (subsequent to my earlier suggestion it be moved to the Araluen Centre complex), given that the NT Government had announced its imminent closure at the (then) Ford Plaza in April that year. My idea was enthusiastically supported by Roger Vale, the Minister for Tourism.
During the NT election campaign of 1994, the ALP promised to build a new home for the NPWHF at the Araluen Centre (reported in the Alice Springs News).
The CLP had a change of heart about the Old Gaol, deciding to demolish it to make way for hospital extensions and real estate infill development that had become all the rage in Alice Springs during the 1990s. While controversy raged over the fate of the Old Gaol, the NT Government also made plans to relocate the Spencer and Gillen Museum to the Strehlow Research Centre at the Araluen complex. The new Central Australian Museum was officially opened in August 1999, in conditions that have compromised the integrity of both the museum and the SRC.
Amongst those prominent in the clash to save the Old Gaol were Labor MLA, Peter Toyne, and then Alderman Fran Kilgariff (she was elected as mayor in 2000).
Yet when another heritage controversy erupted a few years later over the fate of the heritage-listed Rieff Building they were conspicuous by their absence.
Notwithstanding that the NT Heritage Council not once but twice affirmed the heritage significance of the Rieff Building, the Labor Government overturned its listing which was enabled by legislation passed by the previous CLP administration in the wake of its failure to destroy the Old Gaol.
The Rieff Building was destroyed in 2006, the same year the NPWHF was relocated to the Old Gaol (much to the dismay of its founder Molly Clark, I’m told). The opening of the NPWHF in its new home was supported with great fanfare from the NT Government, which announced that “The hall of fame will be the centrepiece of a first-of-its-kind tourism marketing plan for Central Australia” – a plan which subsequently fell into obscurity.

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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