‘Gift’ costs ratepayers $75,000


It was supposed to be a gift to the ratepayer from the Freemasons. Now the John McDouall Stuart statue is going to cost the town $75,000.
Work has begun on the base (left): the concrete needs to cure for 28 days before loads can be applied.
The four-metre high statue of the explorer – crafted in ferro-cement on a steel frame by folk sculptor Mark Egan – will be erected at the end of July.
The original offer to the Town Council from the McDouall Stuart Lodge no.219 included installation costs, but communications between council and the Lodge broke down following controversy over the placement of the statue.
Initially it was intended for the Civic Centre lawns and there was a temporary unveiling there back in 2010. After strong objections from parts of the community, council decided on – and eventually got heritage clearance for – the present location at the western end of Stuart Park (top).

– Kieran Finnane


Stuart staue: should council give it back? This report of council deliberations in February this year also contains the links to our reporting of the controversy in 2010.

Icons, living and dead by KIERAN FINNANE: reportage in Griffith REVIEW #44, Cultural Solutions, on two contrasting processes of intervention in Alice Springs’ public space – the Stuart statue saga and the revitalisation of Todd Mall. Online access available to subscribers.


  1. It is a fair price to pay for the statue. If council have the intestinal fortitude to ignore the feral agitators and listen to the majority this statue would have been erected already.
    I am really sick and tired of those pathetic minorities who protest for the sake of protest and never for the social good. Tiny little minds with hate of almost everything that the majority support. I am glad times are changing and majority voices are heard. Looking forward to seeing the statue in the park and pay tribute to a man who our town was first named after.
    And glad that council grew some and did what is in the interest of the town.

  2. This “gift” is what the Freemasons were saddled with courtesy of Les Pilton. It’s real home should be out the front of his Barrow Creek Roadhouse, erected at his expense.

  3. And now John McDouall Stuart will stand tall, forever gazing north up Bath St. Or will he? Any word on the alignment? West to the highway? East to the Todd? South from whence he came?
    How visionary is our Council! From something that was supposed to happen quietly, this has turned into the gift that just keeps on giving. I only wonder how long it will be before the first paint bomb lands.

  4. Council will need to place CCTV cameras to watch the statue to ensure those intent on committing a crime of defacing public property are caught, named and convicted. Sick of the community being blackmailed by small minded selfish persons such as those you mention Hal. This statue belongs to the town of Alice. Some may like it, others may not. Criminal damage is criminal damage and those who would act in a manner to deface public property are criminals.

  5. I’m with you, Janet. Criminal damage is criminal damage.
    And I have always liked the statue, for what that is worth.
    But I still wonder how long it will be before the first paint bomb hits.

  6. I hope the colours don’t clash. The times are a changing … it’s 1954 in Alice Springs!

  7. Typical council executive, embellishing the price tag to sensationalise the installation. Ask the contractor what he is charging for the works? The reality is, the cost is driven by “administration” at the offices of Rex Mooney and Greg Buxton. What a joke!
    Maybe if you had let them put it up in the first place it would have cost the council nothing. Wasn’t that the original deal?
    Five years later (yes 5 years) and the Council together with the weasels at Heritage have decided to hide the Statue in the corner behind trees so no one will get offended. Another joke!
    This statue is well overdue and I’m surprised that those Freemasons even continued with the gift considering the hurdles and obstructionist approach from the executive at the council.

  8. “After strong objections from parts of the community, council decided on – and eventually got heritage clearance for – the present location at the western end of Stuart Park”
    Is that your opinion because it is certainly not fact? Were you there at the unveiling ceremony in 2010? I was! I didn’t see “large parts of the community” objecting to it, in fact I saw about seven people protesting and about 300 people applauding the unveiling. So what are you suggesting here, are seven people a large representative of the community?
    Please stop the simpleton exaggeration when writing pieces at the Alice News because you are ruining an otherwise good independent publication and the only real voice in Alice.
    [ED – We were at the unveiling. We are referring also to the subsequent expressions of opinion.]

  9. @ James, June 17, 2014,10.47am. You have the correct quote at the start of your comment. When you add the word “large” you are taking me to task by misquoting me.
    “Strong objections from parts of the community” is a reasonable summary of what happened when the plan for the statue became public knowledge. In particular there was an emergency meeting of council’s Public Art Advisory Committee called on the day before the unveiling. I was there as a journalist. The meeting was open to the public and well attended, by which I mean standing room only in the Andy McNeill Room. There was a range of views expressed but overwhelmingly the mood was against installation of the statue on the Civic Centre lawns, for a range of reasons. By then, council had already proposed the alternative location of Stuart Park, though without the requisite heritage approvals.
    I reported in detail on the unfolding controversy, including the unveiling, in 2010. There was a small vocal protest at the unveiling, which I account for in 67 words out of a 1000+. The links to the key reports have been provided above.

  10. My knowledge gained by questioning the number of anti was less than 50.
    That from a town of over 28,000 is very insignificant.
    As I state again minority voices that spend their time protesting against everything for any reason should not be given precedent over the voices of the community.
    That path is under construction now. Majority voices are being heard by their silence.

  11. Finally it is up for all to see. I drove past today and was very happy to see the statue in place. Good one council.

  12. Bad art is bad art. The politics should also be discussed before anyone confronts people with bad art.


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