By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Town Council is “divided, lacks leadership and individual Councillors have put their own political interests above the interests of the people of Alice Springs”.
This is part of a sharp attack launched this morning by MLA for Braitling, front-bencher Dale Wakefield (at left), and culture minister Lauren Moss (at right), following rejection by the council of the $20m art gallery deal offered by the government.
“We have continued to make every effort to work with the Alice Springs Town Council to identify a site within the CBD that will pave the way for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery,” says Ms Wakefield in a media release a short while ago.
“The Council has rejected the land swap proposal but has not provided any information behind their decision as to why the amount was not sufficient, nor have they come back to us with a scope of works, costings and also what they are prepared to put on the table.
“There has been no real solutions from Council after two years of intense negotiations.
“We note that the new Council CEO is prepared to meet with the Territory Government to discuss the next steps and we welcome this.
“The Gallery is a project that we will continue to fight for and we call on the Alice Springs Town Council to put the people of Alice Springs that they serve – first. And to come to the table with real solutions.
“Negotiations need to progress as quickly as possible, so that the project’s potential for Central Australia can be realised.”
Ms Wakefield says the project needs to be “led by the Arrernte nation” but there is still no clarity about how the government, and the council, will be dealing with the wishes of prominent Arrernte people who want the gallery built south of The Gap.
Both Ms Wakefield, yesterday, and the council, today, refer in their statements to the CBD as the location.
Meanwhile Town Council CEO Robert Jennings has responded to a question from the Alice Springs News why the special council meeting on Tuesday was held behind closed doors.
He says: “This meeting was held as a confidential meeting in accordance with the Local Government Act due to some of the items included in the report being marked as confidential and Council was respecting that request.”
The News understands these items were correspondence from the NT Government.
“Once the meeting was held, information and decisions from that meeting were brought to open, including a release to media directly following this meeting,” Mr Jennings says.
Ms Wakefield and Ms Moss say in their release that the gallery is “one of the biggest investments into Alice Springs in decades, and is a defining project for the future of the town and an important project for revitalising the CBD.”
The financial proposal, the $20m, is “in addition to the $50m currently on the table” for the gallery.
The deal would contribute to a new civic centre and multipurpose development for the Council to move from the current location to a new location and transferring the ownership of the land; a new town library that is an innovative and technologically advanced education hub; a new town hall that provides a central space to engage all community members in discussion and debate over civic issues and to celebrate civic events and ceremonies; co-contribution towards the Alice Springs CBD Planning Framework and leasing costs for an interim location(s) for the council administration and town library.
Ministers lash out at council over gallery
By ERWIN CHLANDA