Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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HomeIssue 7'Save Anzac Oval' motion defeated

'Save Anzac Oval' motion defeated

2584 council 2 OK

Above: People in the council public gallery. Doris Kngwarraye Stuart, centre, in the white cardigan. Below: Division called. People in the gallery stand too.

2584 council 4 OKBy KIERAN FINNANE
Cr Eli Melky’s motion, that council does not support  Anzac Oval as the preferred location to build a national Aboriginal art gallery, has failed.
Mayor Damien Ryan, Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson, Councillors Jamie de Brenni, Glen Auricht and Jacinta Price opposed the motion.
It was supported by Crs Melky, his seconder Catherine Satour, Jimmy Cocking and Marli Banks.
There were angry shouts from the public gallery, in particular from Yvonne Driscoll who has been prominent in the campaign to save the oval.
“How disgusting!” she cried out. “58% said leave the oval alone!”
Many Aboriginal people had got to their feet during public question time, all opposing a change of use for the oval. Among them was Alison Furber. She had spoken on behalf of her sister Margaret Furber and then on her own account, saying that the gallery needs to be in a culturally appropriate place.
When the motion was defeated, as she left the chamber she angrily called out: “You are so disrespectful!”
Councillors opposing the motion did so for different reasons.  Those put forward by Cr de Brenni would give the government cold comfort.
He said the government “cannot be trusted”, “they don’t consult”, “they divide and conquer”.
2584 council 3 OKBut council needed to stay in the room, he argued, and get everyone in there with them, with all options on the table, naming “Mr Furber and Mr Cole” – Harold Furber and Owen Cole both of whom had spoken strongly earlier in the meeting against the use of the Anzac precinct for the gallery project.
Councillors Price, Auricht and de Brenni voting.
Cr Price also wanted to remain in dialogue with the government but to “consider the other options […] available to us”.
“If we were totally for having it built at Anzac we would have already ticked that box,” she said.
Crs Auricht and Paterson were more positively in favour of the Anzac precinct for the gallery. Cr Auricht emphasised the government’s intention to retain the oval as open green space for the community and saw the potential for it being enhanced by the development.
Deputy Mayor Paterson claimed there have been discussions with traditional owners.
“Not all of us!” Doris Kngwarraye Stuart interjected from the floor.
He also referred to a traditional owner publicly supporting the government’s project. This is presumably Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens, who has been announced as a member of the gallery’s national reference group.
DM Paterson argued that the gallery could be a great step towards reconciliation.
This was greeted with derisive laughter, as there were many senior Arrernte people in the room, who had spoken decisively against the project.
Mayor Ryan had earlier advanced a similar argument, that the gallery built on the old Anzac high school site would send a great message to young people involved in antisocial behaviour, make them feel wanted, and build connections in the community.
“You are not our saviour!” interjected Mr Furber as  Mrs Stuart came to the microphone.
She gave an impassioned address about what it means to her to belong to this country: “It owns me, I have a job to do, my job is to make sure we don’t have an art gallery, ever.” She meant, as she has previously stated in the council chamber, not ever on Mparntwe, north of the Gap. She is not opposed to the site for a cultural centre, in the Desert Knowledge Precinct, the subject of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement signed in 2006, as pointed out to the meeting by Harold Furber.
“Where is the respect due to people who belong here?” asked Mrs Stuart.
She reiterated her belonging to the land: “That gives me the right to say no, to having something plonked down on top of it.”
The spectre of Mrs Stuart and her family standing outside an eventual gallery with placards opposing its existence, is something that the government and councillors may want to consider.
Earlier tonight:
People are standing as seats are running out in the public gallery as the Town Council will tonight vote on a motion crucial to the future of the Aboriginal art gallery: Will the council’s Anzac Oval be ceded to the NT Government?
KIERAN FINNANE will bring you updates during the evening. Stand by.


  1. The current government continuously attempts to mask or deflect attention of its ineptitude by making constant reference to the previous CLP regime. It doesn’t wash – it’s just business as usual, regardless of which party is in power.
    Right now there is significant evidence across the nation of most people fundamentally disillusioned with government at all levels, party politics, and (most worrisome) even with democracy. The behaviour we’re witnessing from the NT Government now (and from its predecessors) amply illustrates why this is happening.
    Most people have had enough. Large numbers in parliament will not provide sufficient buffers against voter anger anymore.

  2. Quote: “Mayor Ryan had earlier advanced a similar argument, that the gallery built on the old Anzac high school site would send a great message to young people involved in antisocial behaviour, make them feel wanted, and build connections in the community.”
    May be or they will happily vandalise it if their elders told them that this gallery should not be there.

  3. It would appear that five of Alice Springs elected councillors have forgotten why they were elected?
    Or are they playing politics with this highly sensitive issue?
    Is it possible that those councillors (perceived to be Country Liberal supporters) have aligned them selves with their Labor counterparts in the NT Government?
    Is this the future for the people of Central Australia, where Liberal aspirants preference inept Labor initiatives over common sense, and the will of the people?
    A limited choice from a very shallow and complicit gene pool at best, come the next election.

  4. Thank you to Crs Eli Melky, Catherine Satour, Jimmy Cocking and Marli Banks for your support and respect to the wishes of the traditional custodians.
    Maybe the Mayor can explain why at the commencement of the meeting he acknowledged traditional custodianship of the land.
    Normally this acknowledgement pays respect to the traditional custodians, ancestors and continuing cultural, spiritual and religious practices of Aboriginal people.
    Further, it provides an increasing awareness and recognition of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and cultures.
    Obviously not last night. It was just words with no meaning in fact in my eyes it was an insult to the Aborigines present.

  5. Am very disappointed with the five councillors who did not support the people they represent.
    What was the point of the poll the council ran? The fight is not over.
    The indigenous people who spoke last night are determined to have the gallery built on another site and many will support them. Shame on you five councillors.

  6. Councillors Melky, Satour, Cocking and Banks – your support and motion to clearly dispel any previous confusion about the government’s preference to build on or at Anzac Oval because of its proximity to the CBD and furthermore to be heard supporting the outcome of the council survey was noted by all present at the council meeting last night.
    Likewise, to all the speakers who provided reasoned debate to consider alternatives to Anzac Oval being the “chosen” venue, your voices were also heard.
    It is sad to be a resident and hear such disharmony and to come away believing that a democratic process such as the survey outcome, carried out in a transparent way by council staff, whom councillor Melky publicly congratulated, is not being acted on.
    Why have the survey?

  7. Very disappointed at this outcome. This won’t stop the vandalising of the area. The Mayor has to be kidding if he thinks this will be sending a great message to the youths of the town.
    Nothing is stopping them, Mayor, and an art gallery is not going to make any difference.

  8. It’s a disgrace, disregarding the result of an expensive survey of peoples’ opinion. No surprise that all levels of government are held with suspicion.

  9. Perhaps a new acknowledgment at the commencement of Council meetings is needed. Perhaps something along the lines of, “We acknowledge the Arrernte people as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, although we reserve the right to ignore your wishes if those wishes run counter to what we have planned for this town.”
    In other words, we may have put your flag on the hill but now it’s back in your box, you vocally inconvenient blackfellas.
    This vote confirms what I have long noticed about public consultations. First Council decides what it wants to do, then it holds a public consultation, then it does what it has already decided to do.

  10. Thanks to those councilors who did not bow to a vocal minority and a flawed survey result. This is why you were elected, to make difficult decisions without fear or favour. Keep up the good work and keep moving Alice Springs forward.

  11. The council supported my vote and many more for supporting the gallery at Anzac. Great day for Alice Springs. The gallery is supported by the majority. Now let the work begin. Hooray for majority voices. Against the protesting of those who want to stifle our town and its future.

  12. Fair comment Kevin, but why no supporters, no speakers in favour for the use of the oval came last time? I would have been a very interesting debate.
    The against had very good arguments but I am still waiting for the other side to express good points other than “it will bring thousands of visitors each day … it will be the best in the world … it will be good for the CBD.
    The CBD, to attract families, needs well developed Todd River banks promenades, a large play ground on the Melanka site like the one in Araluen, and some apartments.

  13. To follow … What an interactive bombshell with a government broke.
    1. 200 all day car spaces removed in a town where it is hart to park.
    2. A gallery hidden behind a park with a facade hard to find by tourists as they drive past without finding it.
    3. A small car park at the gallery unable to take six or eight tourist coaches at the morning opening. No doubt employees will park there too.
    4. A narrow road entrance and coach turning road. Also caravans will be unable to enter as will mobile homes.
    5. Loss or town business and employee parking will need the council to install parking meters or build a multi-level car park in Railway Terrace area after real-estate purchase.
    6. Total distress by Aboriginal artists and families who do not want it there.
    7. Guranteed that the public of Alice Springs will saturate the gallery car park for their own use.

  14. With all the talk of it needing to be in town, has anybody seen the Outback at Isa, or the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, both visonary, massive tourist destinations outside of town?
    Of course nobody visits these places because the are so far away.
    Forget it, fix crime, make the mall vibrant, fix crime, build it somewhere where people cannot miss it.
    Why not keep ANZAC as it is, and put the oval where the proposed footy fields are going to go.
    This land is available for it, and seeing TOs’ opinion counts for nothing, plonk it there.
    No lights spilling across to the Bradshaw residents. It seems every time you think about it, another viable option becomes obvious.

  15. It is interesting that the same CLP voters and councillors vote exactly the same. I am surprised Steve Brown has not responded. I just noticed Janet has commented so no surprise there.
    It is really funny that you are proud to support this party. Can’t you remember the results of the last election? You were hopeless. It is always the same 5 counsellors causing the issues. Tell me what has the Mayor done for this town apart from collecting payments for being on boards and attending functions.
    Have the guts to vote on what you believe is right not just following a party who is incompetent.
    I like your comments Ray you have provided some great examples!!!!!!!
    [ED:- We are offering right of reply to the Mayor.]

  16. The NT Government hand selected a group of people to provide assistance in making recommendations for this iconic Aboriginal art centre.
    Hetti Perkins and Philip Watkins, because of their knowledge and expertise in the Aboriginal Art environment, along with Michael Lynch who sits on quite established and creditable boards of museums all around the world were the senior knowledgable people on this steering committee, along with people who came from Tasmania, Cairns and Alice Springs.
    These people were invited and sought after by the NT Government to deliver a report over a year of talking, walking, poking and probing about what shape this building would look like, what would the management consist of, and most of all, where would it be located to best suit the purpose.
    Truly informative capturing pieces of information that focus on stories around the true governance of a country that explains history, ownership and management which came from the dreamtime.
    The steering committee’s report was to provide a good insight to a brilliant purpose.
    We nominated the Desert Park as the preferred site based on a number of reasons.
    The Anzac Oval was one of the first locations to be struck off because of the location.
    All along this process, the Alice Springs Mayor was doing his own leg work in making the Anzac Oval the obvious choice.
    Telling the NT Government how wonderful it would be to bring life back to the Mall, and all the other stuff that went with it.
    He did this behind the steering committee’s back, and above all behind the his fellow councillors’ back.
    Time to step down, Damien!
    [ED:- Michael Liddle was a member of the original steering committee, as Chair of the Strehlow Research Centre Board, and Executive Member, Central Land Council.
    We are offering the Mayor right of reply.]

  17. Hear, hear, Michael Liddle.
    I’d like to second that (e)motion.
    Damien and his voting block in council have no solutions for fixing this town’s problems, preferring “more of the same” when this approach has repeatedly failed.
    Time to move aside and give the town a chance to plan its way back to prosperity.

  18. Interested: Your accusation that the CLP is pulling my strings is wrong.
    I stood firm with my support as I do not care who is in government as long as Alice Springs reaps the rewards.
    Party politics are for the immature voters. I am noone’s puppet.
    My voice is for the good of the economy and stability of Alice Springs.
    I applaud the Labor Party for their decision to promote Alice Springs.
    And their choice of Anzac Highschool is the perfect location.

  19. Thank you Janet for your comment.
    I have never heard you say or write anything positive about the Opposition, I may have missed this so don’t take offence please.
    I hate politics, but what I am saying which surely you can notice, is that the same five all support the one party no matter what subject or what is to be the correct decision.
    The councillors have always had a majority of CLP voters.
    It’s great to have a variety of people now.


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