By ERWIN CHLANDA
To come up yet again with exactly the same arguments supporting the government’s “preferred” location for the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery – Anzac Oval – is a slap in the face of the town which has roundly rejected that choice.
Yet that is exactly what The Centre’s only front bencher, Dale Wakefield, the Member for Braitling by the narrowest margin, is doing right now.
In a June 6 media release she refers to this as “local consultation” which she will be doing “over the next few months”.
Ms Wakefield refused our request for an interview on the subject.
She says in her handout: “For the Anzac Hill precinct to move forward as the home of the gallery we need to alleviate any concerns that the local people of Alice Springs have about the site.
“We believe that the Anzac Hill precinct is the best site because it is the only site in the CBD that fits our size requirement of 40,000 square metres to accommodate the building, parking and landscaping.
“A CBD site also has the best chance for investment from the Commonwealth Government through town centre rejuvenation initiatives and it will also be in a better position to attract private investments because of the flow-on economic benefits.”
Here the Minister is misleading by omission. Commonwealth Government’s Smart Cities Plan and City Deals program do not focus exclusively on “town centre rejuvenation initiatives” but have a far more integrated approach, as reflected in the City Deals funded to date – in Townsville, Launceston, and Western Sydney. “The Role of the Australian Government in Cities – Smart Cities Plan“mentions “CBD” only twice in the context of City Deals underway:-
• The Townsville City Deal … roadmap for the future … to deliver urban renewal and drive further investment across the city … the North Queensland Stadium … revitalise the waterfront and CBD … attract more investment, industry, freight and port-related businesses.
• Launceston City Deal … coordinated investment from all levels of government … better education and job opportunities … support the relocation of Launceston’s university campus closer to the city centre … revitalise the historic CBD and the city’s northern suburbs.
The suggestion by Ms Wakefield (pictured) that it’s the CBD or nothing for those Federal funds to become available is clearly fabrication.
This is how the Federal department describes the City Deals: It must be a “shared vision across the three levels of government centred on unlocking economic potential in a city.
“Governments need to work together to customise their approach to the unique opportunities of the city, drawing on innovative financing and funding arrangements to provide transformative investment … to create the whole-of -city capacity and governance arrangements necessary to sustain and build on the improvements.”
Most of what the NT Government has done to date in relation to the gallery project pushes in the opposite direction. The Anzac location has been roundly rejected by the people of this town and its local government: The NT government’s own polling showed 60% preferred other sites.
A petition tabled in council in April by Cr Eli Melky showed 1200 signatures against using the oval. He said a Facebook poll registered 1600 against Anzac Oval, 46 for.
Cr Melky foreshadowed at the same meeting that there will be applications for heritage listing of the whole area being proposed for the gallery, comprising the old high school site and the oval.
Meanwhile there is no announcement about a nationally representative reference group “to help guide the delivery of the gallery” for which Eva Lawler, Acting Minister for Tourism and Culture, sought expressions of interest in April.
PHOTO: Anzac Oval during the opening night of the Masters Games.
Related reading: Aboriginal art gallery – Anzac Oval off the table.