Saturday, July 20, 2024

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HomeIssue 7Gallery: Council did not say boo

Gallery: Council did not say boo

2579 Anzac Oval OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA

The Town Council’s fumbling of the Indigenous art gallery project reached a new low at 7am on Friday last week, according to several sources.

Mayor Damien Ryan and all councillors except Jacinta Price met behind closed doors with NT Ministers Dale Wakefield and Lauren Moss, accompanied by minders and bureaucrats.

The ostensible purpose was to acquaint the council with results of the government’s so-called community consultation about the gallery – an effort widely seen as dubious.

All council elected members had the day before received the results of the council’s own public poll on the use of Anzac Oval for the gallery, a decisive 58% to 42% rejection of a change of use for the oval.

Yet neither the Mayor nor any of the councillors told the government reps during the meeting that this put paid to the use of the Anzac precinct as their “preferred” site.

The council had put the question before the public in the form of a poll as the result of a unanimous vote, .

The case clearly could have been made that having received a response from the public, council is now obliged to honour it.

More than 2000 people took part the council’s opinion in the poll. Only 755 participated in government’s “engagement” with members of the public who could have had little doubt that this process was designed to convert them to the government’s views, not to objectively canvas the public’s views.

Cr Eli Melky has since foreshadowed a motion for the September 24 council meeting seeking to ensure that Anzac Oval remains in the council’s (and community’s) hands.

The issue may also be raised under other “business” in the council’s forum on Monday which is not open to the public.

We are seeking comment from Mayor Ryan, and Cr Jamie de Brenni, who at the council committee meeting last Monday  cut short a discussion about the issues, despite a significant turnout by keenly interested members of the public.

PHOTO from one of the government’s brochures promoting the government’s “Anzac Precinct” proposal.

RELATED READING (since last Monday):

National Aboriginal gallery: Town Council’s action clear as mud

Anzac Oval ‘change of use’: council gives constituents the brushoff

Anzac Precinct: govt declines to play ball, confusion reigns

Gallery at Anzac: Council has no position, says Deputy Mayor

Anzac Oval: Minister won’t rule out compulsory acquisition


  1. Polls are run in attempt to gain community feeling on a subject, not to make the actual decision.
    If we ever reach such a farcical state where that occurs, the country will simply cease to function.
    The important thing to take into account from the polls, petitions and rallies is not the results for and against, but the numbers that participated.
    Of the small number who did, on every occasion except for the councils latest fascicle attempt, which was clearly hacked, the numbers were well below 2000.
    Divided about 50-50, a thousand each out of a town of 28,500 residents!
    In planning or decision making those who do not show an interest one way or the other are counted as supportive!
    A thousand against equals a tiny 3.5% of the population! Not at all sure we would want to base any decision making on that!
    Further, council only exists under the Territory’s Local Government Act.
    It is in fact owned wholly and solely by the Territory Government which makes it a matter of protocol in such circumstances that the Territory Government takes the lead and makes the decision.
    The council’s role is to advise and lobby on behalf of and in the interests of its own future role but not to stand in the way of a government of which council itself is actually a part!
    In light of that fact the council’s decision to be site neutral and simply to work with government to achieve the best possible outcome for our community is absolutely the correct position, just a shame they didn’t explain it to the community!
    Oh, and the Territory Government does not have to “resume” that which it already owns to start work on it!
    So council would be well advised to ingratiate itself making certain it is part of design committees and project implementation, committees where they will be in the best possible place to influence the final outcome.

  2. It is clear that a National Indigenous Art Gallery will be important to Alice Springs.
    However the people of Alice Springs, of both Aboriginal and European heritages, obviously do not want the Art Gallery built at Anzac Oval. It is too significant to them for other important reasons. The people have said so, and keep on saying so, in spite of what seems to be great pressure from the North.
    Sadly not everyone is choosing to believe the ordinary people of Alice Springs, but believe them they should, for this is a matter of the heart.
    Business people should realise that this National Indigenous Art Gallery will have such national standing, if done well must have a unique Australian feel, and will attract tourist visitors to fly to Alice from all over the world.
    That is a prime reason why it must be built in the right Territory setting, with the right natural colourful backdrop, and have room to grow.
    In, or near the CBD obviously does not have the right feel. It is not the right place.
    Let’s get on with it now, in the right place where there is suitable land.
    In the meantime, we must abhor the NTG’s threat of an attack on council. Alice Springs Town Council are legal custodians of Anzac Oval.
    The fact is that council is democratically elected, and manages this very special oval for all people of Alice Springs.
    For the NTG to even threaten compulsory acquisition of this land would be a mean intervention, set to re-ignite old Berrimah Line wounds.
    PLan: The Planning Action Network, Inc.

  3. Steve: What we are actually talking about here is property that does not belong to the government at all, ie the Aboriginal art of the whole of Australia.
    The building has no purpose if Aboriginal people decide the lack of respect for their cultural values is just further exploitation and an insult they are not prepared to wear … and so boycott the building.
    Since the Gunner government has such contempt for Aboriginal priorities in displaying their art and telling its story in proper cultural context in the landscape, the Council needs to take ownership of this project, harness the overwhelming support for the Aboriginal Gallery concept in Alice Springs and go direct to Canberra to fund this as a reconcilliation and Central Desert development project.
    Show some leadership, stand up to any bullying or threat and take on the project!

  4. Well said Louise and I believe that all involve in NT Government and Town Council should read the book of Kathleen Kemaree Wallace, Listen deeply.
    Deep listening means to hear every dimension of the other person, both what is said as well as what is implied.
    It means to hear the words and the emotions underneath them and to hear the general disposition and mood of the person: To hear all of it.
    Kathleen is the senior artist for the art centre and over the last 20 years has mentored and supported other women artists and young women.
    She is internationally regarded and her artworks can be found in many major Australian Collections.
    Two years ago, over 100 non-Indigenous people from across Australia gathered at the Edge of the Sacred conference at White Gums at Honeymoon Gap, outside of Alice Springs, to hear Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann and others speak about the spiritual road to reconciliation with Aboriginal people.
    Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (AO) is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu (Daly River), where she served for many years as the principal of the local Catholic primary school. She is a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker.
    Rather than speak of treaties and politics, Miriam Rose, shared the concept of quiet meditation, an Indigenous practice that her people use to find out who they really are, their purpose, and where they are going.
    Obviously none of our politicians took much notice.

  5. Council didn’t say “BOO”. What about the junket urban raised Lhere Atepe sideshow?
    They haven’t said boo either. The people who are currently in office should hang their heads in disgrace about their lack of drive and understanding around governance and accountability.
    You know who you are!
    Why are the doors locked, why is the chairman in trouble, why hasn’t the CEO made an effort to comment on this political junket?
    It’s no wonder Warlpiri, Anmatyerre, Pitji pitj, Alyawerre people are playing up as well as the NT Government and the Alice Springs Town Council.
    Again the town cries, but the chair, CEO the admin [of Lhere Artepe] sneak around with no face, no name and no country.
    That means no identity.

  6. It is time we all recognised that Aboriginal people are equal individual Australians and can speak for themselves, having as many and varied opinions on subjects as the rest of us.
    Too much consultation, too much discussion is not a healthy thing. It leads to bogged down confusion, exacerbates division and generally leads to nowhere, no result.
    That’s why we have a system of a democratically elected government, to make decisions on our behalf.
    In the case of the gallery they have selected their site and are sticking to their decision, good on them for that much at least.
    Let’s now see if they can actually produce something on the ground. I must say I really do have doubts, however time will tell.
    The important thing about living in a democracy is to understand that while you push your argument for all its worth during the discussion, at the end of the process, when the decision is made, win or loose or draw you must put self interest aside accept the result and out of respect and in the interest of your community’s advancement.
    Fall in behind the a decision reached by a majority government.
    If you don’t like what they have done kick them out at the next election!


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