By ERWIN CHLANDA
The NT Government has options for using the site of Anzac High, currently being demolished, but these are before Cabinet and are confidential, according to Braitling MLA Dale Wakefield.
“Clearly, we think the Anzac Oval site is the best site for the national indigenous art gallery project,” she said, but that has failed and the Town Council has rejected an alternate proposal – moving the civic centre to the Anzac High site and building the gallery where the council is located now.
The Minister was speaking this morning during the launch of the government’s Mpartwe / Alice Springs Youth Action Plan 2019-2021 in the dining room of the St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre. Lunch cooked by pupils was served during the function.
Ms Wakefield spoke to media.
ALICE SPRINGS NEWS: Why is Anzac High being demolished?
WAKEFIELD: There were significant issues to bring it up to today’s standards, to Australian standards. We can use that site for a much more contemporary use. It is a valuable piece of land, rather than having a building that it is becoming more and more derelict and dangerous, sitting there unused.
NEWS: What will go its place?
WAKEFIELD: We are continuing to work on this. Of course the council rejected our land swap [proposal]. They don’t want to be part of building something positive on that site. We are more than happy to continue the planning around that … and how we move forward. We’ll get the site demolished.
NEWS: So you don’t know at the moment what is going there?
WAKEFIELD: There are a number of options. It is a community purpose site that is owned by the NT Government. We want to make sure that whatever goes into that site is community infrastructure. There are a range of options. We will continue to consider those and consult with the community about that.
A spokeswoman said later that the options are before Cabinet and are confidential for the moment.
NEWS: Is the oval going to be compulsorily acquired [from the Town Council]?
WAKEFIELD: We have no plans for compulsory acquisition. We want to work with the community. Clearly, we think the Anzac Oval site is the best site for the national indigenous art gallery project. However, we have also been trying to work with council about an alternative site. They have said no, they blocked that, they also blocked the use of the Anzac Oval site, by continuing on with the heritage listing of the grass of that site [this does not seem to be the case now]. We will continue to make some plans. The NT Government is completely committed to deliver [the art gallery] to Alice Springs.
NEWS: ICAC had two reports before it about whether Anzac High was repairable or not. Have you seen both reports?
WAKEFIELD: I have not seen both reports but I have had some dealings with the site when I was CEO of the Alice Springs Women’s Shelter.
NEWS: Just to be clear – the two reports before ICAC – you have not seen either of those?
WAKEFIELD: I have seen what was presented to Cabinet but clearly that’s Cabinet in confidence.
NEWS: The second report before ICAC, that one that said upgrading of the building could be considered, did you take that into account or not?
WAKEFIELD: A decision was made by Cabinet. We will continue to do that. [Anzac High] is a not fit for purpose site. The ICAC said there was nothing wrong with the decision making from the Cabinet. They did question some of the processes but they did in no way imply that there were any issues with the decision made by Cabinet.