Minister Lawler determined to demolish Anzac High



Sir – I am a member of the McDouall Stuart branch of the National Trust and a councillor on the NT National Trust. 


We are very concerned about the NT Government’s plans to demolish the Anzac Hill high school. 


I am also a traditional owner of Alice Springs. I attended the Anzac Hill school, along with lots of Aboriginal people and I would like to see those buildings stay there.


At a meeting of our National Trust committee a couple of weeks ago we decided that we should meet with Eva Lawler, the Minister for Infrastructure, at the Alice Springs Show to talk about saving the school.


The government believes the buildings are degraded and dilapidated and are a safety risk.  We do not agree. We have photos taken only a week earlier and the buildings inside and outside, are still in excellent condition.


David Hewitt, the local National Trust vice-president and I made an appointment to meet the Minister at 11.30am on Friday at the Labor Party stand at the show. 


She did not turn up till after 12 o’clock. We were very disappointed that Ms Lawler did not want to hear what we were saying and was not interested in the photos that we had.  She kept interrupting every time I started to say something, even when I said “you have to listen”. 


I also mentioned my thoughts on the Indigenous Art Centre, that it must go south of the Gap.  The Government made a promise to build it near the Desert Knowledge Centre.  But Ms Lawler said the art centre was going in the business area of the town.


It is very sad that the Government will not even listen to what is being said by the people about the Anzac Hill high school and the Art Centre.  They must sit down, talk to local people and think about what they are doing, before the Government makes these decisions.


Brenda Shields

Alice Springs
PHOTO courtesy Alex Nelson. We have offered Ms Lawler the right of reply.

UPDATE August 1


The NT Government let a tender on July 23 for $1.9m to McMahon Services Australia (NT) Pty Ltd under the title “Anzac Hill School – Demolition Works”.



  1. I trust Krafty realizes just how many dinkum Centralians who built our beautiful town and are directly connected to the first secondary non segregated education facility in Alice, will not forget who patronised the destruction of our structurally intact and easily restored Anzac Hill High School. Which together with our post WW2 sports oval should have already been classified by the National Trust with the same historic importance as our Hartley Street School is. Gunner and his fiscally inept “team” will also be recorded accordingly.

  2. This story is so reminiscent of the public fight to save the Alice Springs Gaol in Stuart Terrace, next to the RFDS, against a then CLP minister determined to demolish everything on the site.
    Same with our Old Hartley Street School, which the council of the time wanted to demolish so as to have more car-parking!
    I’d have hoped that we lived in more enlightened and culturally-aware times but, sadly, it seems not.

  3. It might be old but it’s just not something that would attract tourist or many local visitors throughout the year if it was ‘done up’.
    Sorry if it offends but I think you will find the people wanting to keep it are people that attended the school or had something to do with it and are trying to hold on to their memories.

  4. @ James T Smerk (Posted July 21, 2019 at 12:09 pm): Uh huh, and there were people like you who said the same kind of thing about all other heritage listed places in town that barely avoided the bulldozers.
    How little do you know!
    That old school was once the pride of Alice Springs and a major tourist attraction – yes, truly it was!
    Because that’s where the world-famous School of the Air was located from 1954 to 1968 – and there’s no reason why that can’t happen again.
    Isn’t it easy for the instant experts to make pronouncements from a position of ignorance – I mean, have you or the other critics actually bothered to find out about the building’s true history?
    No, I thought so.

  5. A FYI to any one interested. The Northern Territory “Construction Snapshot – July 2019” (an 8.2mb PDF document), states that Anzac Hill High School is the anticipated commencement date for demolition in Q3, 2019!
    This detail is on page 19.
    I guess the timing of how long it will take to be completely demolished will probably be determined by whether or not building materials will be saved or not.


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