By ERWIN CHLANDA
The debate about the Aboriginal art gallery has reached a new low with the ill-informed comments by the Darwin-based CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, and a bland statement in Parliament by Natasha Fyles (pictured), Acting Minister for Tourism.
She was asked yesterday by Opposition Leader Gary Higgins, who was referring to reporting in the Alice Springs News Online: “Recently we have seen a tender released by the government for a consultancy to develop a business case of the Indigenous art gallery at your preferred site at Anzac Hill. This is despite a government spokesman stating at a meeting in Alice Springs on Wednesday night that no decision has been made on the site of the National Indigenous Art Gallery and you saying on 10 August that the business case was well underway.
“Why have you misled the News about the progress of this business case? Is it true that you put out a taxpayer-funded survey asking Centralians what they think about the museum without a question about the museum being at the Anzac Oval location and why are taxpayer’s funds being used to develop a business case for a site that is unpopular with locals and far from decided?”
Minister Fyles then gave a 465 word response which answered none of Mr Higgins’s questions but regurgitated the meaningless hype that has been the government’s way of dealing with this issue so crucial for Alice Springs. (This text is taken from an uncorrected Hansard record.)
Madam Speaker, as the Acting Minister for Tourism and Culture this week, I am more than happy to share with the Chamber and maybe those opposite will come on board. This is a fantastic project and it will deliver for the people of Alice Springs, Central Australia and the Northern Territory.
The inland capital of Australia to be the cultural capital. The National Aboriginal Art Gallery will be a globally significant facility, a cultural institution that all Australians will be proud of. It will attract thousands of visitors to Alice Springs and Central Australia.
Having made numerous visits and spent significant time there—I am heading back there on Friday—I cannot think of a better place to have this located with the backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges; Central Australia as the Aboriginal cultural hub.
In terms of this project, it will bring significant employment opportunities particularly for Aboriginal Territorians both in the construction and ongoing phases. As we have been upfront—those opposite just do not like good news, they do not want to get on board with a good project, they are the naysayers of the Territory, we will keep delivering—we are nearing the end of a three-month community engagement and consultation project in relation to the gallery and the government’s preferred site at the Anzac Hill precinct.
We are undertaking this project and this feedback so that we can hear the community and work with the community. We have always said that the Anzac Hill site was our preferred location and that the planning is well underway.
I know that the Member for Braitling, along with the Member for Stuart and the Member for Namatjira, their support for this project is significant. We need to get this project into Central Australia. South Australia have been talking about it; it is not the right place in Adelaide, in South Australia. It needs to be in the centre of Australia.
Those opposite simply talk down these projects and opportunities. This is such a significant opportunity for the Northern Territory, for Central Australia, for the people of the region to have such a huge culturally significant facility.
The local engagement team in Central Australia has met with hundreds of individuals along with key organisations and stakeholders.
We acknowledge this project—in terms of the Alice Springs residents, we need to communicate. We have been doing that. We have always been up front that the Anzac Hill site is our preferred location.
We are getting on with delivering the project for Central Australia. We are getting on with delivering jobs in the construction phase and the ongoing operations.
I thank the member for the question and the opportunity to update the House.
By ERWIN CHLANDA