Council ‘in the way’ of Alice development: Chief Minister

2551 Michael Gunner OKBy KIERAN FINNANE

 

On the proposed national Aboriginal art gallery for Alice Springs, Chief Minister Michael Gunner has suggested that the blockage lies with the Town Council.

 

Right: Mr Gunner in Alice Springs last year.

 

MLA Robyn Lambley, in the Legislative Assembly on February 14, asked Mr Gunner about progress on the gallery, saying: “Since you came to government two-and-a-half years ago, you have not added one single extra cent to the national Indigenous art gallery funding. Your progress to date has been at a snail’s pace.”

 

Mr Gunner replied by citing his government’s projects that are underway: “Acacia Hill [school], north Stuart Highway duplication, the Alice Springs women’s shelter, the domestic violence courts.

 

“One thing all those projects have in common—nothing to do with Alice Springs Town Council. We want to do a lot in Alice Springs. As a government, when we get a free run at it, we get a lot done in Alice Springs.”

 

The government is “proceeding” with the gallery, he went on, before taking aim at the council again: “Late last year there was a fantastic meeting on-site at the Anzac Oval precinct where 29 traditional owners made their intentions really clear and asked Alice Springs Town Council to get out of the way.

 

“Early this year, we received formal correspondence from nine who have now have a difference of opinion about approach. As a government, we said we will respect that—we respect the 29 and the nine. We are taking a deep breath and allowing some space to occur and those conversations to happen.”

 

Councillor Eli Melky is indignant about those comments. He was in the public gallery at the sittings and at Monday’s council meeting drew the attention of his fellow elected members to what had been said.

 

“I don’t recall any such correspondence from any traditional owners,” he said, in relation to the assertion that they had asked council “to get out of the way”.

 

He went on to suggest that those 29 traditional owners – “correct me if I’m wrong” – come from “one custodian family”, whereas the nine signatories of the letter expressing their opposition to Anzac Oval being used for the gallery project, represent nine custodian families.

 

Thus the Chief Minister’s comments skew the picture.

 

Cr Melky suggested that the Chief Minister should be invited to meet with council.

 

“We do want to work with the government,” he said.

 

“We should encourage him to understand we are not the obstacle, we are not in the way, and encourage him to work with us … particularly [on] the national Aboriginal gallery.”

 

There was no dissent from the elected members. Mayor Damien Ryan said he would write the next day to ask the Chief Minister “to meet with us to explain his comments”.

 

“We need to point out that we are very much in favour of projects in Central Australia.”

 

 

UPDATE 2.50pm

 

We have put the following questions to Mr Gunner and will report his reply when it comes to hand:

 

On February 14 you said in the Legislative Assembly:

 

“Late last year there was a fantastic meeting on-site at the Anzac Oval precinct where 29 traditional owners made their intentions really clear and asked Alice Springs Town Council to get out of the way. Early this year, we received formal correspondence from nine who have now have a difference of opinion about approach. As a government, we said we will respect that—we respect the 29 and the nine. We are taking a deep breath and allowing some space to occur and those conversations to happen.”

 

Could you please provide names for the 29  traditional owners referred to? The names of “the nine” are on the record.

 

Councillor Eli Melky told his colleagues at last Monday’s council meeting that he understands those 29 traditional owners come from “one custodian family”. Please comment.

 

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

A new way to support our journalism

We do not have a paywall. If you support our independent journalism you can make a financial contribution by clicking the red button below. This will help us cover expenses and sustain the news service we’ve been providing since 1994, in a locally owned and operated medium.

Erwin Chlanda, Editor


4 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. InterestedDarwinObserver
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Gavin: Of course there is no business acumen.
    Majority of the party have ZERO business experience.
    They are a bunch of amateurs pulled from unions, ex staffers and a few identity politicians.
    Beyond lacking businesses experience, many of them seem to be lacking life experience too! (This one is for Moss, Manison and MIA Paech.)

    View Comment
  2. Dr Ongo
    Posted February 28, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    What is a traditional owner? How do you define that term?
    Is it the same as native title holder, which is a very recent legal term.
    Or is it closer to a more original Indigenous understanding.
    Something closer to apmereke-artweye and kwetungurle.
    Or is it something else again?

    View Comment
  3. Namatjira Art Collector
    Posted February 28, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    What is (Nero) Gunner doing bothering himself with Alice Springs when Darwin, the traditional seat of Territory Labor’s power, is (burning) floundering?
    Gunner is clearly a loose cannon for Labor which will probably find it difficult to win a second term.
    There are now a couple of small splinter parties as well as independents that are capitalising on Gunner’s mistakes – and the Anzac Oval idea is certainly unpopular with many locals and traditional families.
    If Melky and his new party can run with the opposition to Anzac Oval and others in Darwin add to the disaffection with Labor’s general mismanagement, then it has a rather good chance of ending up like the CLP.
    If (and it is a very big if) someone in the Labor government were to do their sums, they would walk away from the Anzac oval project and very quickly find a new location that is viewed favourably by those opposed to the oval. But, I fear the fiddle is being tuned as I write.

    View Comment
  4. Gavin Carpenter
    Posted February 28, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    I would suggest Gunner have a good look at himself. All very well to blame the Alice Springs Town Council however if the government (Gunner) had used any decent business like approaches to the town there is a possibility the art gallery would have been a goer (not that we need it or can afford it).
    The total lack of business acumen stands out in virtually every thing the government does, hence being broke for a start.
    Where are the highly paid public servants that are supposedly there to give sound and sensible advice to the government? Sitting on their hands keeping seats warm ready for retirement??

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*