Dear Namatjira Art Collector: I would urge you to delay …

Comment on Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it by Mike Gillam.

Dear Namatjira Art Collector: I would urge you to delay sending or perhaps simply loan your collection to South Australia in the belief that maybe, just maybe, a future government of the Northern Territory might prove itself worthy of such the gallery project.
A single art gallery to represent many language groups is not the only model.
Who knows, maybe the arts trail being developed could include a modest facility at Hermannsburg and placing your watercolour collection within this environmental and social context would certainly value add the works and empower the people who live there.
Such a facility could function as an annexe of a bigger Alice Springs gallery with curatorial oversight and training of locals during its establishment phase.
If it’s not too late, please think it over.
ALP or CLP, I know it seems Central Australia will always be short-changed by its leaders but I live in hope.
Perhaps this is the price we must pay for living in paradise.

Mike Gillam Also Commented

Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it
Look at the pictures you mob, it’s a resort! There’s a large kitchen, meeting hall or gym, room for accommodation, studios and micro enterprises, low hanging fruit for our forward thinking leaders.
The town could have both, community at Anzac and Art and Culture south of The Gap. It makes perfect sense.
Why does it have to be one or the other? I know the Minister for Central Australia and I’m positive she’s capable of advancing two development projects at once.
She might need permission from up north but. This is embarrassing – adjust the blinkers please.


Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it
An NT Government climate change update just arrived in my inbox touting a low carbon future. All talk no substance as they rush to demolish an amazing complex at Anzac.
I was a rusted on Labor voter. Now I’ll be switching to Independent.
It’s definitely time to give up on the major parties when each enthusiastically promotes the poor record of the other to legitimise and excuse their own tragic record in Government.


Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it
Like Mardi and Jim, I too respect Minister Wakefield’s experience and commitment to the social services sector and don’t mind admitting that I was optimistic after the last election because some-one with real knowledge was to be our Minister for Families and Children’s Services.
I’ve now read the youth action plan and it feels like a good start although I’d like to have seen a commitment to venues that support and challenge our youth and make significant space for young people of all races and social strata to interact positively and learn from one another.
Youth homelessness was cited as the final goal (7) and with all the objectives listed, funding was vital.
Maybe that’s why I’m so incensed by the wasteful agendas on display at Anzac. I could go on and on but I need to mention the Anzac High precinct and the gift it offers the NT Cabinet in its current form.
I believe the previous government designated the site as a youth hub but failed to seriously develop the concept.
From memory the Giles Government also cut real funding to youth services so they had their own credibility problems.
I trust the current government’s shameful neglect is not tainted by “it’s not our idea” pique.
The town’s youth facilities seem woefully inadequate and this large scale site offers endless opportunities, a veritable village where young people can meet with room to breathe.
It is large and rich enough to include intergenerational layering and the enterprise opportunities and encouragement that can bring.
The building envelope is huge with abundant rooms for amongst other uses, crisis accommodation for the homeless (Goal 7).
I strongly believe that an imaginative redevelopment of Anzac with an imperative to address some of the town’s pressing social needs at its heart, is more important than building a single tourist attraction on this site.
I support the notion of a major cultural centre but I believe there are better sites.
I firmly believe that overtly planning tourist attractions to support retailers in the Mall is wrong headed.
Consider objectively the cost benefits of recent public investment in Mega Fauna Central. If we can make genuine headway on the social and environmental challenges facing this community, we’ll create a destination attractive to tourists in the process.
The Minister’s trite and factually incorrect comments on the quality and condition of Anzac High precinct are incredibly disrespectful to anyone who expects accountability in government.
There are NO significant impediments to utilising the heritage buildings for myriad “contemporary” uses.
With respect Minister, the advice you are receiving and repeating is worse than bullshit.
We expect much better than this from our leaders.
If this unadulterated spin is indicative of the advice now driving the secret deliberations of the NT Cabinet then heaven help us all.
I only wish I could be as polite as Peter Hoey.


Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Country, people, cultures come together to heal a sick man
Dave Nixon is and always has been a huge and generous contributor to this community.
We were unable to attend on the night but knew it would be well supported; a touching reminder that you reap what you sow.
Thanks to the Alice Springs News et al for transporting us to the event through such heartfelt and vivid reportage. Best, Mike Gillam and Maria Giacon.


Town Council considers $50m art gallery options
Larry is spot on. Some people buy a new house and proceed with caution.
They live in it, understand spaces, analyse form and function for a year or so before making big and irreversible changes.
Fools rush in and start knocking holes in walls.
Optimists in our community naively claimed this new Town Council CEO with a reputation for listening might offer our community a fresh approach to some old disasters. Maybe not.


Top secret ‘master plan’
The tail wags the dog alright. Against local advice Government has been insisting on demolishing Anzac, a perfect youth hub, why?
Months of stress with government running hidden agendas and feeding the community half truths.
Can we believe Town Council knew nothing of these plans and deals?
Demolition of Anzac never made any sense so ordinary people are going to speculate.
Would Minister Eva Lawler behave this way bulldozing public assets in her Palmerston electorate on a whim?
Who knows anymore, maybe they’re going to sell the Anzac land for a big hotel development when facilities for young people is what we really need.


Another nail in the Anzac High coffin
Dear Interested Observer. You are right and also wrong. Where once great potential existed for a useful array of repurposed heritage buildings, the NT Government will soon gift us a legacy hole in the ground. However, I can assure you the so called soft demolition (gutting interiors etc. + removal of asbestos) at Anzac High complex would have been a necessary early stage of any schedule of works to upgrade and refurbish the complex. Your confusion is understandable. When honesty, imagination and leadership were needed Ministers Lawler and Wakefield have reverted to innuendo designed to erode public confidence in the value of the buildings.


Another nail in the Anzac High coffin
Please excuse my clumsy and at times irreverent analysis of the recent NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing. I don’t have any real legal training but this is how I will remember wasting an hour of my time last Friday.
The NTCAT made no attempt to interrogate the overarching truths at its one-hour hearing. (1) Should the Heritage Council have placed the nomination for listing of Anzac High on public exhibition? (2) Was the Council unduly influenced by the stated desire of the NT Government to clear the site to allow the construction of a major art gallery? ‘Anticipatory compliance’ is the phrase I’ve heard.
Instead the Tribunal President denied the request by Alex Nelson for a temporary injunction to halt demolition on the basis that he was unwilling to accept personal liability for costs, presumably in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars!!
Then the great legal minds in the room (in Darwin) proceeded in mutual understanding to shoot the messenger (Alex Nelson in Alice Springs). The Government’s safe harbour was maintained and strengthened, that Alex Nelson had failed to present his complaint to NT CAT within the appropriate time frame. Hell, he’d even wasted precious time by first going to NTCAT’s big brother, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), on the 30th April! Meanwhile after nearly three weeks NTCAT has not yet established whether Mr Nelson’s application is too late to have proper standing. That discussion/process will be argued on the evidence presented at, you guessed it, another hearing, this time in mid December. So Alex will be asked to waste more time representing and reframing the abundant and crystal clear evidence he has already provided to NTCAT on the 11 October.
How is NTCAT acting in the public interest and protecting valuable, structurally sound, eminently upgradable infrastructure, of proven heritage value that will be demolished next week? In all fairness, NTCAT would naturally prefer that Alex goes away, any further ‘investigation’ rendered immaterial once the buildings are demolished and the Government’s complicity is converted into landfill.
Regardless Alex has agreed to the December hearing because he wants the truth of this blunder investigated and revealed, a pyrrhic victory that may assist cultural change in the NT Public Service. Frankly I think he’s wasting his time, the process is massively, fatally stacked against appellants who, acting firmly in the public interest, try to illuminate and prevent failures of Government. Surely every Minister wants to know if the advice provided by public servants or an advisory body is worse than worthless before making irreversible decisions? If our Government wanted to know the truth it would waive any costs for damages against the heritage nominator Alex Nelson and provide him with equivalent legal advice and standing. I have no doubt that such a course of action would see the Anzac High complex retained. The case for retention is very, very strong. I only wish I had a mountain of unfettered cash in the bank for moments like these, when your own Government becomes the enemy.


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