The Territory Government will not discuss any alternative sites for its proposed national Aboriginal art gallery with the Town Council, it has told council in a letter today, asking that “they now work with us on transitioning this site [Anzac Oval] to one owner, being the Northern Territory Government”.
The letter makes no mention of outstanding native title issues in relation to the precinct.
“We believe that, for this project to be progressed at this site, it is critical that it is treated as a single site with a single owner.
“We have informed the Council that the Northern Territory Government is not seeking to enter into further discussion about alternative sites as we believe that this matter has been widely canvassed and considered by the community – firstly via the Expert Steering Committee and then through two rounds of community engagement and consultation.”
The Expert Steering Committee did not recommend the Anzac precinct site, only the Desert Park, but the government’s letter does not allude to this. Instead it says:
“In making the decision about putting the Gallery at Anzac Precinct, we considered the Expert Steering Committee’s criteria for a cultural institution of this significance, including size requirements, connection to landscape, amenity and accessibility.
Left: Tourism and Culture Minister Lauren Moss and Braitling MLA Dale Wakefield, releasing their consultation report.
“This decision is also in keeping with significant community feedback that the Gallery is best located in the CBD in order to put Aboriginal art and culture at the centre of the community and to maximise the economic, social and cultural benefits of this project for the people who reside in Alice Springs.
“We have reiterated to Council that the master plan for this site will include considerable open green space for events and community enjoyment and ample car parking. We recognise the historic and cultural significance of the site to many local people and this will be reflected in the master plan. The master plan will be developed in consultation with the community.
“Additionally we confirm the Government’s commitment to developing a new home for rugby league and rugby union at an alternative site, subject to transitioning the Anzac Precinct site to one owner, being the Northern Territory Government. We ask that the Council and the rugby codes works with us on developing this new home.
“We have also heard clearly from many conversations with Aboriginal stakeholders, that in building an internationally significant art gallery showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from around the country, we also need to do more to elevate and celebrate the voice of the Arrernte people of Mparntwe. In coming weeks, we will be presenting to the community a range of initiatives that will seek to do that.
“It will include establishing a Cultural Community Reference Group, which will help to guide cultural protocols in relation to the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and work with us on better elevating and recognising Arrernte art, culture and heritage within Mparntwe and its environs.”
This month’s Town Council’s committee meetings are scheduled for the coming Monday, 15 October.
Sources: NT Government media release dated 12 October 2018; Alice Springs News Online reporting.
Central Land Council communications manager Elke Wiesmann says the Anzac Oval is freehold and owned by the Alice Springs Town Council. The site was not included in the native title determination.
The Alice Springs News Online is seeking clarification about the native title status of the Anzac Highschool site, which is part of the proposed gallery location. We understand it is government land.
The town’s native title organisation Lhere Artepe said yesterday: “There is no statutory role for Lhere Artepe at the moment and no proposal has been put to negotiate Indigenous Land Use Agreement or to extinguish native title for the purpose of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery.”
Leader of the Opposition, Gary Higgins, has issued the following statement.
The threat of compulsory acquisition of the land that Labor has deceitfully decided is the location for the gallery is the last measure of a government desperate to get its way.
Should the government arrogantly proceed down this track the matter could be caught up in the court for years.
This will mean South Australia will benefit from this government’s pig headed approach.
Labor has failed the Territory on this project, commencing with their dismissal of their own expert steering committee’s recommendation on location.
This whole saga, like the Pinelands debacle, reinforces the bully-boy tactics now being employed by the Labor government, devoid of genuine consultation or appreciation of community views.
Labor’s failure to genuinely consult with key stakeholders, including the Alice Springs Town Council and its blatant disregard for community concerns will be the failing of this project.
The Minister is wasting everyone’s time with a fake and flawed consultation process that simply reinforces the disregard she has for those Territorians who stand to be affected.
The so-called open and transparent Labor government sent its long winded statement on Friday afternoon, clearly hoping to pass its heavy handed approach under the radar.
Territorians are smarter than that.