By ERWIN CHLANDA
Chief Minister Michael Gunnner was long on bluster and short on facts when he replied to questions today from independent Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, about the Aboriginal art gallery.
He said in Parliament: “We have been consistent in the approach we have taken … the council, on the other hand, has been an example of dysfunction.
“It voted five to four to advance conversations on the development of the national Aboriginal art gallery at the Anzac Oval site.
“The question is to what extent council wants to be involved in the project. The council does not know how to answer that question.
“We have proposed the idea of transitioning to a single owner because of the fact council cannot work out what it wants. It either votes five to four or four to five on an issue.”
In fact on October 15, during its most recent discussion about the gallery issues, the council voted unanimously against “transitioning” the ownership of the oval to the government.
Mr Gunner repeated a well-worn response: “A total of 88% of the Alice Springs community consulted said they want the project to progress and are supportive of the Anzac Hill Precinct or are site neutral.”
“And just want us to get on with it,” was the recent addition by Arts Minister Lauren Moss when questioned by the Alice Springs News Online.
She claimed: “It is complete nonsense to say there is ‘huge public opposition’ to this site.”
Both Mr Gunner and Ms Moss are overlooking that 58% of more than 2000 people voting in a council referendum rejected the sale of Anzac Oval to the government, while the government argument is inconclusive on numbers.
Their 88% argument has a significant flaw: It puts two lots of opinions into one pot, those who favour the Anzac Precinct and those who don’t care where the gallery is built.
However, their respective percentages are not given.
They include people who couldn’t care less what is being built and where so long as significant public funds flow to the local construction industry.
Ms Lambley also asked Mr Gunner: “Will you rule out compulsory acquisition of Anzac Oval from the Alice Springs Town Council?”
Mr Gunner gave no straight answer but said: “We have written to the Alice Springs Town Council saying that we are open to the idea of transitioning to civil ownership.
“I said there is a range of things we still need to talk about with the Alice Springs Town Council.
“It is critical that they are partners to the project, whether it is one owner for the site or not, because there is a range of issues that still need to be worked through with council in and around the art gallery site, if not specific to the site itself.”
PHOTO: The northern half of Anzac Oval.
UPDATE October 25, 6.10am
A reader has pointed out to us the following text on the government’s consultation website: “During the engagement period, the total number of people engaged face-to-face was 755. This was achieved through 114 meetings and 11 face-to-face pop-up information stalls in the Todd Mall and at local events.
“Our finding show that 63% of the Alice Springs community consulted were supportive of the project and the preferred site. 25% were supportive of the project and site neutral, and 12% were either not supportive of the site or not supportive of the project.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA