Coles Mural: Government, Heritage Council fall silent


2598 Coop's Shot Tower OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
In the grand scheme of things the Coles Mural may not be a big deal, except it’s a scary subject lesson in the fake democracy we live in.
It also raises titillating questions: Lauren Moss is the arts minister who wants to bulldoze the Anzac Hill highschool so she can build the national Aboriginal gallery on the site.
She is also the heritage minister, obliged – one would imagine – to assess on its merits the heritage listing application for the school by Alex Nelson, a member of the Heritage Council. Small world.
SPIN: No worries, Mr and Mrs Public. We are from the Heritage Council and we are here to help you. We’ll protect the few remnants of what makes your town special – to our very last breath.
REALITY: Minister Moss has a minder issuing a statement on her behalf, saying she has declined the mural’s heritage listing. Ms Moss goes to ground on the issue. Heritage Council chairman Wayne “Krafty” Kraft issues a statement about the council’s recommendation of the listing and goes to ground on the issue.
A lively debate ensued in the pages of the News, including comments from Domenico Pecorari, a heritage architect in Alice Springs for decades and the applicant for the mural’s heritage listing.
He makes a strong case for the variety of ways historic items can – and are – being preserved, especially in his comment of November 6, 2018 at 3:31 pm.
In the case of the Coop’s Shot Tower (pictured) in Melbourne that includes creating a dome to protect it, he writes.
And this is where the charade of being a democracy becomes blatant: No further comment from Mr Kraft and neither from Ms Moss, both having retreated behind the walls which a Budget of about seven thousand million dollars a year of taxpayers’ money can buy. ($675,000 of that went to running the Heritage Council in 2016-17.)
We put the following questions to Mr Kraft, copy to Ms Moss, but received no answers:–
As you saw from the Minister’s reply there was only one response in the 28 day comment period, namely from the owner of the building.
No doubt you had access to that reply, and it was part of the matters considered by your council in its formulation of a recommendation to the Minister.
If not, why not?
The statement on her behalf, which we published, says the Minister had two reasons to deny the listing which your group recommended:-
• Because “it would be an unreasonable imposition on the owner of the building on which the mural is painted to have it permanently protected by the Heritage Act”. Is it fair to say the Heritage Council  does not share that view, as its recommendation suggests?
• The “mural has been carefully documented as part of the process of assessing its heritage significance”. No doubt the council would have been aware of that as well. In what way should “careful documentation” be the reason for exposing the mural to destruction?
Do you agree it is reasonable to say that the minister and the [Heritage] Council are at odds on the matter, having come to their respective [namely opposite] conclusions on the same evidence?
The Minster has the legal power to overrule your council (and she did) but does she have the moral right?
Does the Heritage Council represent the public?
If so, should its recommendations prevail?
Under what circumstances should they not?
If not, what is the point of having the Heritage Council?
Was the council’s decision on the mural unanimous? (The News understands it was.)
Where and how was the 28 day public expression period advertised?
Does the council directly inform obvious stakeholders of matters that are before it for recommendation, in time to make comment ahead of a decision, such as, for example, Heritage Alice Springs?


  1. Perhaps a bit optimistic to think the heritage minister, Lauren Moss, would act to preserve the Coles Mural when she is actively attempting to turn the arguably more heritage rich Anzac Oval into a bus parking bay for the proposed gallery.

  2. The mural shows part of our history, the way we were, and it would be bad to get rid of any sign of our past.
    On the past we build the future. Without past we are nothing just floating in limbo.
    It is not so much the artistic value of the mural which counts but what it represents in the timeline if our development. So little has been kept of the beginnings of Mbantua.
    They may be humble but this is a record.
    Lauren Moss should appreciate the value of the our recent history. The dollar sign does not match.

  3. Minister Moss basically hung her hat on the fact only one submission was recieved during the 28 day public exhibition period. That from the building owner who objected to the heritage listing proposal.
    On the other hand, her NTG colleague Minister Eva Lawler totally ignored 75 objections against (versus two in support of) the proposed Albrecht Oval lights received during the same 28 day public exhibition period / process.
    Go figure?
    They do what suits their own agenda.

  4. Who owns the wall anyway?
    Presumably Coles only leases it.
    Perhaps the owner would care to comment on the imposition that heritage listing might bring.
    One could perhaps argue that the building would be more valuable with a historical mural than without?

  5. Hal @ November 9, 2018 at 8:09 am: There is no plan that I know of to do anything with the Anzac Oval area other than retain it pretty much as is, just better set up for concerts, other public events and general public access and use, but without football matches being played there.
    I am certain that there is no intent “to turn … Anzac Oval into a bus parking bay for the proposed gallery.”

  6. Ntharipe Observer, Posted November 10, 2018 at 4:51 pm.
    Sounds good, but then if the plan is to leave the oval alone, why not just leave it alone?

  7. Adam Giles is reviled, held up to ridicule by Territory Labor then voted out with the help of “Independents” for amongst other things, erecting a building that compromised the character of Alice Springs.
    Missy Moss, you sure are looking like another Adam Giles.

  8. Whilst I understand the desire for that wall to be listed, I’d have to agree with the Minister.
    The building is private property. I know If I had a mural painted on the wall of my house that I own and was then told I couldn’t alter it to expand my building (several years after it was done), I’d be downright furious.
    Now If I was told that at the time of purchase or construction then It would be a different matter altogether. If they want it listed then approval should come from the owner.
    There is this “Not in my Back Yard” mentality in this town that’s (aside from our failures in government and social issues) causing this town to stagnate.

  9. Congratulations, Ben.
    Your post says it all about our local culture which, sadly, places financial opportunity above all else. Woe that anything should come between a property developer and a bucket of money.
    Sad too that this town’s so called leaders cannot see the link between loss of heritage places (and the role they play in maintaining a desirable urban environment) and the reduction in tourism and visitor numbers and the resultant downturn in the local economy, the local population and property values.
    You see, we all end up paying in the end for our short-sightedness.


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