Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site



Councillor Marli Banks says there have been no authorised decisions by the Town Council about leaving its present civic centre site to make room for the proposed national Aboriginal art gallery.

And she says nothing should happen before the Town Council, in its own right, seeks the views of the Mparntwe custodians.

Cr Banks (pictured in the centre of the photo) was contradicting a statement made in Parliament yesterday by Chief Minister Michael Gunner in response to a question from Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley.

Ms Lambley said “it has been three years and still we have no site for [the gallery] … despite spending over $1m in consultancy fees … you have failed to secure a site … we hear that negotiations … have broken down” with the Town Council. 

Mr Gunner replied that Ms Lambley’s information “is contrary to all formal correspondence, all formal meetings and all formal decisions by the Alice Springs Town Council”.

Cr Banks says there is a clear protocol for Town Council for making decisions: A matter is discussed in council meetings when all nine elected members have an opportunity of being heard.

A motion is then moved and if carried by a majority it becomes the decision or the policy of the council.

None of that has taken place in the issue of location for the gallery: “There is correspondence between the council and the government but we’re not really having discussions.”

She says if there are discussions “I am not privy to them. When we raise this with the CEO and the Mayor we’re getting the same answer – we are still waiting for answers to our correspondence.”

Cr Banks says the matter is being dealt with in confidential council meetings despite demands from her and Cr Eli Melky to deal with the issues in meetings open to the public. 

“It is important business and it is in the public interest,” says Cr Banks.

“I am dissatisfied with the government’s approach to me as an elected council member.

“If they are meeting with individuals and that allows them to stand up confidently in Question Time and say we are having good conversations, then that demonstrated their lack of understanding of how local government works. Official business has an official process.

“My point is, who is Mr Gunner having these conversations with? We have not sat in a room with the Chief Minister, we’ve been on a teleconference with him once. It falls short.”

Cr Banks says any council decision must follow consultation with appropriate traditional leaders, including the question where the gallery should be – north or south of The Gap.

Significant Aboriginal figures have ruled out north of The Gap where the government is proposing the location – again.

“The Mparntwe custodians are a very clearly defined group. They have the authority and the native title rights,” says Cr Banks. 

“I continually advocate to the council to begin conversation with them in our own right, on how to move forward. We need to build these relationships. 

“We have not even put forward a request for talks with them as a group.”


  1. Perhaps one of the more astonishing features of this continuing saga is the overweening arrogance of Alice’s current group of councillors.
    They somehow think they have the right to dispose of our civic centre.
    They forget they were elected to look after our assets, not use them as bargaining chips in some shady back-room deal.
    Commercial-in-confidence is such a scam. Come on councillors – I challenge any of you to grow a pair.

  2. I get an uncomfortable feeling I’m about to be shafted when my elected representatives hide behind commercial in confidence and confidentiality. Snap out of it Alice Springs Town Council – what’s going on here?

  3. “Who is silent is taken to agree.”
    Cr Bank and Cr Melky, who do not agree, should not attend the meetings and the public will know who is betraying our trust.

  4. This is just a personal opinion, but does anybody else feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers?
    Bitterness, petty rivalry between councillors, political “up yours” tactics and infighting is sure to erode away any serious interest from the Government in proceeding with the project if the council don’t pull it together.
    I just hope that the councillors bear this in mind the next time they meet about this topic and work together rather than against one another before its too late.

  5. @ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
    This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
    Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
    With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


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