By ERWIN CHLANDA
More than 3700 athletes and crew, a record 231 teams up from 205 in 2016, participating in 36 sports, according to the Minister for Tourism and Culture Lauren Moss, were quite a score for the 17th Masters Games winding up at Anzac Oval with a concert and fireworks last night.
She could have mentioned the 800 volunteers who, in true Alice style, can make huge things happen.
Ms Moss didn’t come to last night’s party, which is quite a pity, because the oval is playing a big part in her political life, and its likely demise, as it does for Minister Dale Wakefield and Chief Minister Michael Gunner. They weren’t there either, although the latter was shouting, with taxpayers’ money, of course, the function in the VIP enclosure.
They would have been quite safe inside that enclosure: Not only did it have a fence, but also a buffer zone with a second fence (photo below left) in case us common folk outside wanted to get close and ask questions such as “come for a stroll and show us where the Indigenous art gallery is going to be, and tell us why”.
In fact the only elected government figure on the night was Chansey Paech, MLA for Namatjira (that’s the electorate the furthest from Darwin), who acquitted himself well on matters of Masters Games but never gets a guernsey on the gallery.
The absence of face-to-face contact between The People and Ministers Wakefield, Moss and Gunner isn’t a surprise: They prefer to communicate through the American-owned Centralian Advocate which, surely, must be about to change its motto “We are for Alice” to “We are for the Government” – having turned over its “Editorial” to Ms Wakefield.
With the majority of the population, on all indications, against the Anzac Precinct being the site for the gallery, Ministers Wakefield, Moss and Gunner clearly didn’t have the bottle to say to people’s face last night that this is where the gallery “is being built”.
They announced that switch from “preferred site” in the Murdoch paper the day before.
In a full page taxpayer funded advertisement, of course.
Naturally this form of “consultation” comes at a cost.
Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley, asking questions in Parliament, found the government has spent $54,300 on gallery-related advertising between August 2016 and September 14, 2018.
For the “consultation process” between June and August this year the government spent:-
• $27,300 for one SAO1 level officer (not counting the work done by other public servants).
• Media advertising ($9230 for TV; $2040 for radio and $8871 for print).
• $1375 for printed material.
• $2546 for the final “consultation report”.
• $76,018 for “consultation” costs including production of communication materials, filming of testimonials, printing, social media, interpreter services, and fees associated with pop-up information stalls.
• The advertising cost for the director position through national, local and specialist publications was $7815.
Had the Ministers mingled at Anzac Oval last night, chances are that they would have been asked about the possible other gallery locations they mentioned in their paid advertising. Three of the five were described as “too small” or “restricted space” while the Anzac Precinct offers 40,000 square meters, the blurb says.
One proposed site that seems to have fallen through the cracks, a symptom of the arrogant process the government has in place, is the picturesque land offered for sale by Ron Sterry.
It is about a million square metres.
It is 15 minutes’ walk from the tourism precinct (that’s half the distance of the government’s site).
It is south of The Gap (a condition of the relevant traditional owners).
It has stunning views along the East and West MacDonnells, and into the wide open spaces to the south, and takes in some of the craggy flank of the range to the north: An outback location – bliss for overseas visitors – close to the middle of the municipal area.
Instead Ms Wakefield and Co want the gallery to be close to cappuccinos in the Mall.
The asking price of Mr Sterry’s freehold land is not known to the Alice Springs News Online, but it’s a safe bet it would be a fraction of the cost of the proposed relocation of the rugby facilities.
The next Alice Springs Masters Games will be from October 10 to 17, 2020.
Will the opening and closing ceremonies be on Anzac Oval?
THE TEAM (from left) Niara Metcalfe, Stephanie Schmidt, Rosemary Wiese, Joanne Buckingham, Josephine Nitschke and Betty Strawbridge. Absentees Andrea Glover, Keiana Palupe, came later, and on the sick list are Tammy Shields, Narda Morton, Julie Kurray.
“We had a beaut week,” says Ms Wiese.
“That’s our fifth time since 2006 as Liquorish Allsorts – the Fun Team.
“We also raised $155 for the Cancer Council with a guessing comp to determine how many licorice allsorts were in a jar, for a gold coin donation. The comp was won by Sonia Donnelly of the Senoritas with a guess of 104 which was closest to the correct answer of 105.
“Thanks to the Butterfly Connections team who ran the bar each night and helped us out with promotion.”