COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
If the Town Council has set out with its survey to fatally confuse the already irretrievably flawed public consultation process about the national Aboriginal art gallery, then it has succeeded brilliantly.
Its online questionnaire, with an August 31 deadline, poses as Question 3:
Where do you support the NTG building a National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs?
Option 1: Former Anzac Hill School site and surrounds, incorporating Anzac Oval.
Option 2: I do not support the NTG building a National Aboriginal Art Gallery at the former Anzac Hill School site.
Then it poses as Question 4:
If you support a change of use of Anzac Oval to accommodate the development of a National Aboriginal Art Gallery on the Anzac Hill School site, do you:
Option 1: Fully support the NTG’s plans.
Option 2: Support, on condition of expanding current number of car bays at the site.
Option 3: I do not support the NTG building a National Aboriginal Art Gallery on the Anzac Hill School site.
But hold on, hasn’t Option 3 in Question 4 not already been offered as Option 2 in Question 3?
Oops, yes, it has.
Question 4 gives you the chance of changing your mind about Question 3 “on condition of expanding current number of car bays at the site”.
Maybe it’s a council stroke of genius: When it’s all said and done, all that iconic stuff, the revitalisation and the turbocharging, the art and the culture and so on, the town’s future, tourists and whatnot, what all this boils down to is car parking.
Maybe the framers of the survey wanted to spare the common folk the agony of contemplating other sites for the gallery, such as Desert Park, Desert Knowledge, the Sterry Block on the southern flank of the ranges, the diverse views on south of The Gap or north of The Gap – all very much part of the discussion around town.
Have the nine councillors elected to represent it no ambition to inform themselves about the views of their constituents on the broad issues of the gallery, and the cultural centre, and then lead the debate and the decision making?
The survey now online does not seem to comply with the council motion carried unanimously on June 25.
Cr Cocking had outlined a number of core principles that should be followed in the survey process.
These have been distilled by the International Association for Public Participation Australasia (IAP2), “based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.”
IAP2 also provides that the public’s contribution will influence the decision; that sustainable decisions recognise and communicate the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers; the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision is sought and facilitated; the input of participants is sought in designing how they participate; participants are provided with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way and the process communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
The motion specifically required this principles to be followed.
However, what you can tick a box on in the council survey is ludicrously limited. Its format suggest that, like the Chief Minister, the council has arrived at a preferred position: Everything’s OK so long as we have lots of car parks.
PHOTO: Approximate position of the Anzac precinct site as seen from the top of Spencer Hill.
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA