By ERWIN CHLANDA
Three town councillors contacted by the Alice Springs News Online said they had no knowledge prior to this morning of NT Government moves to “officially partner with Alice Springs Council” on the positioning the Indigenous art gallery close to Anzac Hill.
All three said that council does not yet have a position on the issue.
Cr Marli Banks says the government is “jumping the gun” as the council is still seeking information to formulate a policy.
“First I heard of it,” says Cr Eli Melky who says he is circulating a petition to save the oval.
Cr Jimmy Cocking says he has been given no prior information about the move.
Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss said in a media release at 6:06am today “the Territory Labor Government wants to continue work with Council to progress the world-class project.
“The Chief Minister wrote to the Mayor of Alice Springs Damien Ryan (pictured) thanking him for his ongoing commitment to the Inland Capital Committee … including the revitalisation of the CBD.”
She says the Anzac site is “the preferred home of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery” but she does not state who it is preferred by.
Ms Moss says a proposed memorandum of understanding “will be underpinned” by agreement that the intended use of the land is for an arts and cultural precinct which will include the National Aboriginal Art Gallery; strong commitment to retain green space for community use including concerts and events and provision of a sporting facility for both rugby league and rugby union, which will include two playing fields and accompanying amenities.
Her media release does not disclose the location of the rugby facilities.
The News is seeking comment from Mayor Ryan.
Cr Eli Melky has made the following statement:
Following public concerns calling on elected council members made on the FB site Alice Springs Open Community forum regarding the possible change of use to cater for the inclusion of the Art Gallery at ANZAC Oval, a poll was initiated on FB that has attracted over 1500 votes not in favour of losing ANZAC oval to an National Indigenous Art Gallery.
In addition to the poll I launched a petition with an aim to present it at the next Alice Springs Town Council Meeting on April 16. I am expecting high level of support for the petition which will provide direction to councillors when it comes deciding on ANZAC Oval, given that the ratepayers own it.
The petition can be found around town and at my office on the corner of Todd street and Gregory Terrace. I will continue taking signatures right up to April 30 and will present at both Council meeting during that month.
I understand that the NT Government has released a media statement today talking about an MOU with the council. I have not been made aware of any formal approach from the Minster.
If the NT Government wants to discuss any relationships with the council regarding the ANZAC oval, I suggest that they would need to improve on their communication strategy and contact councillors formally and not through media in the first instance.
By ERWIN CHLANDA