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HomeIssue 8Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day

Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day

p2496 ASTC Satour & Cocking 430By KIERAN FINNANE
New councillors Jimmy Cocking and Catherine Satour (left) had wins on their  first motions in the new Town Council, during committee meetings last night.
Cr Satour got immediate support from Mayor Damien Ryan for her proposals on local Australia Day ceremonies.
She wants a reconciliation action plan for day, in line with the National Australia Day Council Reconciliation Action Plan, and to have a “smoking ceremony alongside a welcome to Country as part of a healing initiative”.
This is her alternative to the Change the Date approach adopted by some interstate councils and raised as a ‘green scare’ during the recent election campaign.
Rather than changing the date she wants instead to strengthen relationships between Arrernte people as “the original custodians of Mbantua” and “all other members of our community who also wish to live in Alice Springs”.
“It is important to learn of our past history, make relevant long-term strategic efforts to improve our present and build a better future, moving together as one community,” she said.
Cr Jacinta Price, in the chair, queried the use of a smoking ceremony in this context. Traditionally, she said, smoking was used for newborn babies, when someone had passed away and for specific healing, involving the use of medicinal plants. She wanted to consider what else could be done to contribute to Australia Day, although she did not make a suggestion.
“You’re correct”, said Cr Satour, but she understood that traditionally smoking was also used as “a blessing”.
Debate on the motion brought to light that council has a draft Reconciliation Action Plan, which was initiated by Cr Price but has languished in very much preliminary form for some time. Mayor Ryan urged that it be brought back for councillors to work on.
The show of hands in support of Cr Satour’s motion was unanimous.
p2496 ASTC Cocking, Paterson, Melky 430Cr Cocking’s motion was sweeping in its scope. He wants to see “a long-term, integrated Master Plan for Alice Springs”. It would draw on the numerous existing plans  and fresh consultation to provide a “unifying narrative or vision for Alice Springs”, connecting the dots between all the various plans and agencies working on them.
Left: from left, Crs Cocking, Paterson and Melky.
He provided councillors with a non-exhaustive list of existing plans, some from within council including its own Strategic Plan (itself a topic of debate last night), some from within the NT Government, others with the Planning Commission, and yet more with bodies like his own Arid Lands Environment Centre and Tourism Central Australia.
The key would be “integration”, he argued, producing lasting improvements for the town that would be greater than the sum of the individual plans.
His motion suggested that council initiate the process. Cr Matt Paterson, also a new councillor, agreed that a Master Plan is needed but wanted to see the motion talk about involvement of the NT and Australian governments.  He also questioned Cr Cocking’s reference to the plan having a vision for “the surrounding region”, as councillors represent only the ratepayers of Alice Springs.
These points were supported by Deputy Mayor Jamie de Brenni and Mayor Ryan. Planning for the whole region might more successfully be undertaken by the Regional Economic Development Committee, they argued, and there has already been discussion in that committee about doing this. Mayor Ryan also told the meeting of moves afoot among CEOs of all four councils in the southern region to form a Regional Organisation of Councils.
Cr Eli Melky suggested that the town’s role of regional hub would be captured anyway by the integration of all the other plans.
Cr Cocking accepted the amendments to his motion, dropping reference to the surrounding region and including an invitation to the NT Government. He was clearly pleased with the support for what was one of his key election campaign points.
Cr Melky was not so fortunate. There was no support from his colleagues for the motion that he brought to the chamber without a seconder. Readers may recall that Cr Melky was responsible for driving the previous council to pay off the Civic Centre loan, delivering a $100,000+ saving to council coffers.
This decision followed the adoption of council’s budget for 2017-18, which included amounts towards paying off the principal and interest on the loan. These amounts are now unallocated and Cr Melky wanted to have them reimbursed to ratepayers. An alternative to this, included in his motion, seems to describe the default position – that council decide on what to do with those funds – but Cr Melky wanted to ask the ratepayers to approve this.
p2496 ASTC de Brenni etc 430Cr Glen Auricht, another fresh councillor, wanted more information. Council’s Director of Finance, Dinesh Pillay, said he had a report for councillors relating to the budget and these unallocated funds in particular  which would be presented in the confidential section of the meeting.
Right: from left, Crs Price, Auricht, de Brenni.
Cr Melky said the unallocated amounts were clearly identified in the financial reports provided in the open section of the meeting: putting the debate into confidential “makes no sense to me”, he said.  But his colleagues did not agree.
The motion does not fail at committee stage. It will go forward to the full council meeting at the end of the month where it is possible, even if seeming unlikely, that it could win support.
• All councillors showed their keenness by rejecting the recommendation from the executive that they extend the Strategic Plan 2013-2017 until 31 March 2018.  Deputy Mayor de Brenni expressed his frustration that council is operating without a current strategic plan and at the suggested deferral of completing the new plan. Councillors were asked if they were willing to put aside time from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays to complete work on the new plan and they all agreed.
p2143-Anzac-Hill-flags-3• Another long deferred decision of the previous council, on flying the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill, was again deferred, with Crs Satour and Paterson saying they needed to consult more with the public on the issue.
The debate continues to lack clarity on the purpose of flying the flag from this location. Is it to recognise the significance of the site to Arrernte people, which is quite separate from and predates anything to do with serving in the armed forces? Is it to more broadly acknowledge Arrernte people as the traditional owners of the land where the town has grown? Or is to recognise the participation of Aboriginal people in Australia’s armed conflicts? It would be useful for this to be made clear.
• A survey of cyclists in Todd Mall is being undertaken. People are not permitted under current by-laws to ride in the mall although many do; the by-law is clearly ineffective. Cr Cocking said the issue needs clarity, especially as there is now a bicycle rental business located in the mall. Director of Corporate and Community Services Skye Price says council needs thorough data: the survey will count how many cyclists are using the mall in a given period, including how many are riding compared to walking their bikes.


  1. Surely both flags at Anzac Hill are most worthy of being flown.
    The NT flag represents IMHO, those who fought for their country and are still serving in conflicts overseas and the Australian flag is a reminder of this great land of ours and each state and territory who had people serving in the various forces.
    I wonder if the other other states and territory do the same thing? Keep them both flying proudly over this town.

  2. Either I am not understanding Heather Wells’ comment, or she is misunderstanding the issue.
    It is not about the two flags in the pic, it is about an additional flag, the Aboriginal flag.
    As for the question;
    “Is it to recognise the significance of the site to Arrernte people, which is quite separate from and predates anything to do with serving in the armed forces? Is it to more broadly acknowledge Arrernte people as the traditional owners of the land where the town has grown? Or is to recognise the participation of Aboriginal people in Australia’s armed conflicts?”
    May I suggest “all of the above”?
    As a point of clarity, as far as I am aware Australian forces have never fought under, or been represented by the NT flag. Always the Australian flag (in various forms, but that is another story).
    The NT flag is presumably there because this is the NT and NT citizens have served in the Armed Forces…
    Hmm… sounds like the same reasons to fly the Aboriginal flag.

  3. The Flags should stay as they are, they represent something that shouldn’t be trivialised with [by] adding another flag for location reasons or any other. There is nothing wrong with adding an Aboriginal flag anywhere else in Alice, maybe even a huge one on the ranges or even a huge statue up there! I feel people pushing the adding of a flag to this specific location are just after publicity and trying to stir trouble. In a town that already has enough of that. I’m sure these same people will try to pick apart what I have said to try to create an argument, when what we need are ideas and constructive thinking.

  4. The flags were installed on Anzac Hill in 1989 as part of a major upgrade of the memorial. It was late that year the Central Land Council first suggested the Aboriginal flag also be flown there but this was rejected by the Alice Springs Town Council and met with local opposition.
    It’s relevant to recall the long-running heated debate over Aboriginal affairs at the time, with many contentious issues such as the replacement of the Sacred Sites Authority with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, excisions for living areas on stock routes, agitation for separate smaller land councils, and control of the Strehlow Collection.
    All of this controversy generated public enmity that wasn’t favourably disposed towards the suggestion of the Aboriginal flag flying on Anzac Hill that was first made 28 years ago.

  5. Personally I have no objection to seeing the Aboriginal flag provided the flag protocols are preserved. Decisions of 28 years ago need due consideration but this shouldn’t prevent a different decision in 2017/8.
    However, if the Aboriginal flag’s presence would automatically mandate for reasons of political correctness, the necessity of the Torres Strait flag, then this, to me, is a bridge too far. We are not Top Enders here.

  6. More divisive green party identity politics…
    Just making sure those Aboriginals are separated out from the rest, nothing wrong with apartheid if you’re on the right concerned and well meaning side of it.
    Aboriginal Aussies need to be reminded every day of their isolation and victim status, especially the kids, can’t have them thinking they’re just like everybody else, equal to the rest of us.
    We can easily achieve this goal by flying separate flags, can’t have Aboriginal people thinking of themselves as equal partners in the Australian Nation! “Not one of the mob”! If we allow that how are we going to justify speaking for them, patronising them, creating wonderful government programs at huge expense to look after them? “Yes”, of course at a small fee, Greens have to live too. This is all for their own good, they are victims you know….
    Yes all of the above is to be read with dripping sarcasm.
    Segregation, Paternalism, Apartheid are our enemy not our friend, deeds done in another race’s name not at their request is what’s known as Paternalism or being Paternalistic. It is the most vile and the most destructive of all forms of racism, it steals away other people’s souls, their identity, their equality and their lives!
    Yep, that’s Green Party politics.
    Anzac Hill belongs to all of us.
    it is there to represent and commemorate the Nations War dead it was given over by the TO’S specifically for just that purpose. We should recognise and respect that dedication.
    Anzac hill represents the Nation that means all Australians regardless of race, in this place we are one! Reconciliation is about helping Aboriginal Australians to be comfortable with, or accepting of, being “part of the mob” it is about forgiveness and moving on! It is not about perpetual isolation!
    Extending Apartheid!
    Its about being “Equal” and perhaps most importantly, about “feeling equal”!
    You do not achieve that outcome by exacerbating division!
    By flying separate Flags in a place where we gather as a Nation remembering those who sacrificed their lives for all of us Australians, regardless of our genetics.

  7. I’m very sorry, Steve. I’ve read your comment several times, even read “between the lines”, so to speak, but I have not been able to make head nor tail of the point you are trying to make.
    I do, however, question your assertion that Anzac Hill was “given over by the TO’s (sic) specifically for (the) purpose of represent(ing) and commemorat(ing) The Nations (sic) War dead”, and would love to see any historical evidence you may have on the matter.
    I personally suspect that the local Indigenous people were not asked if their sacred site could be appropriated for a memorial to European wars.

  8. @ Domenico Pecorari and @ Steve Brown: The first site chosen for the Anzac Memorial was to be an area set aside at the (then) new cemetery established west of town in 1933 – today’s Alice Springs General Cemetery on Memorial Drive.
    There were objections to this location, mainly that it was a considerable distance out of town and access was via a very rough track.
    According to an account published in 1952, a veteran by the name of Jack Novice suggested that the top of View Hill (or Stott Hill) next to Wills Terrace would be a good location for the memorial. This idea was challenged on the basis it would be too difficult and costly to transport materials to the top of the hill but Novice claimed he had been able to drive his vehicle to the summit easily enough although there was no track at the time.
    Dr D R Brown tested this claim by driving his A-Model Ford to the top of the hill without difficulty whereupon the decision was taken to proceed with construction of the war memorial on that site.
    The energetic Reverend Harry Griffiths became the driving force behind this project, designing the obelisk and presiding over its official dedication on Anzac Day of 1934 on the top of what now became Anzac Hill.
    I’m unaware that any Traditional Owners were consulted about this project – this was an era and time when such considerations just didn’t arise; moreover, Aboriginal people required permits to enter the town area at the time and had no right to be present within the town at all after sunset each day.
    If there is permission from TOs for the Anzac Memorial now, it’s almost certainly been obtained long after the fact of its existence.

  9. @ Alex Nelson, Posted October 13, 2017 at 5:00 pm.
    Once again thank you for sharing your knowledge of the chronology of today’s Alice Springs.


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