COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
The majority of the Town Council last night have sent a powerful message to the public: Don’t trust us.
This is going to be especially interesting for Cr Jamie de Brenni, who wants to be Mayor, and Cr Jacinta Price, who wants to be the Federal Member for Lingiari. Neither showed much political nouse last night, nor commitment to their constituents’ wishes.
The Anzac Oval issue was set to be resolved in a democratic process put in place unanimously by the nine elected council members, including the five who sold it out last night: The people were given an opportunity to vote on the issue.
Are the majority councillors now discrediting what they had chosen to be the way of solving the question? Obviously.
Those people who cared about the issue – a respectable 2000 plus – voted. Those who did not had made a deliberate choice not to avail themselves of this opportunity. For them to now deride the clear 58% to 42% result is petty hypocrisy.
And those pseudo geeks who say you can’t trust online polls should read the council’s report on the process and articulate precisely what they think is wrong with it. Besides, everyone had a chance to cast their vote at the council office, if they do not like computers.
So Cr Eli Melky’s motion last night should have been no more than housekeeping: The people have spoken, Anzac Oval is not available for the national Aboriginal art gallery. Councillors Melky, Catherine Satour, Marli Banks and Jimmy Cocking voted accordingly.
The majority (by one) will have some explaining to do: Cr Glen Auricht stood in part on a platform of close relationships with Aboriginal people. They have so far been scandalously sidelined or misrepresented by the consultation process – the council’s and the government’s.
Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson has shown some promise, especially in being apparently able to bridge the political divide on council, but on this issue he has revealed a tin ear. Perhaps he’s just fallen into the wrong company?
Mayor Damien Ryan, not known for leadership initiative in matters of the town’s pervasive juvenile delinquency or building strong relationships with Aboriginal constituents, had an epiphany last night.
It goes like this: If we build the gallery at Anzac Oval, where young people on the weekend vandalised the old high school (by the way, local historian Alex Nelson has just applied for its heritage listing to stop it from being demolished) the kids will conclude that they are in fact important people in the cultural and traditional life of the town.
Forthwith the kids will stop breaking in, stealing, bag snatching, joy-riding and burning stolen cars, irrespective of the fact that their families don’t want the gallery to be there and that Anzac Hill has a great supply of rocks for throwing at windows.
No doubt Mayor Ryan’s friends in high places will pat him on back for his assistance with pushing through the Anzac Precinct site.
Another step has been taken towards a National Aboriginal Art Gallery at a place rejected by, if last night was an indication, a majority of local Aboriginal people, and certainly a majority responding to the council’s poll on the issue.
What part of that did the majority voting last night did not understand?
PHOTO: Four of the nine (from left) Cr Marli Banks (in favour of taking the Anzac Oval “off the table”); councillors Jacinta Price, Glen Auricht and Jamie de Brenni (in favour of leaving it “on the table”).
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA