Thursday, June 13, 2024

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HomeIssue 17Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it

Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it

Minister Wakefield launched a youth action plan, and spoke to media, at the St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre this morning. Students cooked lunch for the function.


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.


  1. Watch out – they will propose to build a water park there before the election rolls around!

  2. I see another “Melanka” happening here.
    Why rush to knock something down before a financially sustainable proposal and decision is made to redevelop it?
    Dale suggests: “There were significant issues to bring it up to today’s standards, to Australian standards.”
    What were the issues Dale?
    Whilst recognising there are generally issues in upgrading older buildings to current standards, I recall the “Greatorex” building was successfully upgraded to do so and now repurposed as the new police station only some four or five years ago.
    Just as well Gunner and Dale weren’t in power then, otherwise it appears the Greatorex Building would have been demolished as well!
    Sometimes there’s no sense in trying to make sense of political speak.
    But it seems like those +500 or so additional NTG employees / “advisors” recently reported about are getting paid well to deliver not much of a service.

  3. They had better build the gallery there now. Rugby happy to shift to fields behind the Central Middle School.

  4. Minister Dale Wakefield is being deliberately evasive and selective in her responses to the media.
    The fact is that the ICAC identified a significant discrepancy in regard to the condition of the former Anzac Hill High School, with the assessment report by the Heritage Branch late last year finding the old school was in good condition while a media release by DIPL Chief Executive, Andrew Kirkman, dated 15 March 2019, claiming the school is in poor repair and uneconomical for restoration and re-use could not be backed up by any documentation.
    The Gunner Labor Government was elected into office with overwhelming public support on the major promise of providing open, honest and accountable government.
    In relation to the former Anzac Hill High School and the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, we have witnessed an appalling display of the exact opposite characterised by constant evasion, silence, propaganda and outright dishonesty.
    Everyone should note it is almost exactly two years ago that the NT Government announced the Anzac Precinct as one of its two preferred sites for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery.
    This fateful decision – not least the fact that no adequate explanation has ever been forthcoming from the NT Government as to why it over-rode its own Steering Committee for its primary recommendation of the Alice Springs Desert Park for the NAAG – is now accelerating as a major public relations disaster for the Gunner Government.
    There is every indication that this issue may end up being the primary cause of the downfall of this Labor Government.

  5. From having walked all around the buildings and reviewed Mike Gillam’s photos of the interiors, my architect’s eye sees a well constructed building that, to use designer jargon, “has bloody good bones”.
    The rock solid building was built to last, as evidenced by the lack of any cracking, and there is no spalling concrete or rust to be seen – quite remarkable in a 65 year old building.
    Sure, it will certainly need to be brought up to code regarding electrical, air-conditioning and other services, but perhaps the minister could explain just how the building could be considered “dangerous”.
    As for the minister’s claim that the building is “not fit for purpose”, well, that depends on what “purposes” you are willing to consider.
    For a fraction of replacement cost, the town would have a very valuable asset that could be adapted to a variety of much needed inter-related uses.
    It just takes a little more imagination and a lot less bloody-mindedness.

  6. I had much admiration for Dale, however, as time goes By I feel she, like, her leader, is on the same Tunnel Vision Pills!
    They will be remembered! As are all great disappointments!
    Let’s hope there is not too much damage to repair, before they are Has Beens.

  7. Like Mardi and Jim, I too respect Minister Wakefield’s experience and commitment to the social services sector and don’t mind admitting that I was optimistic after the last election because some-one with real knowledge was to be our Minister for Families and Children’s Services.
    I’ve now read the youth action plan and it feels like a good start although I’d like to have seen a commitment to venues that support and challenge our youth and make significant space for young people of all races and social strata to interact positively and learn from one another.
    Youth homelessness was cited as the final goal (7) and with all the objectives listed, funding was vital.
    Maybe that’s why I’m so incensed by the wasteful agendas on display at Anzac. I could go on and on but I need to mention the Anzac High precinct and the gift it offers the NT Cabinet in its current form.
    I believe the previous government designated the site as a youth hub but failed to seriously develop the concept.
    From memory the Giles Government also cut real funding to youth services so they had their own credibility problems.
    I trust the current government’s shameful neglect is not tainted by “it’s not our idea” pique.
    The town’s youth facilities seem woefully inadequate and this large scale site offers endless opportunities, a veritable village where young people can meet with room to breathe.
    It is large and rich enough to include intergenerational layering and the enterprise opportunities and encouragement that can bring.
    The building envelope is huge with abundant rooms for amongst other uses, crisis accommodation for the homeless (Goal 7).
    I strongly believe that an imaginative redevelopment of Anzac with an imperative to address some of the town’s pressing social needs at its heart, is more important than building a single tourist attraction on this site.
    I support the notion of a major cultural centre but I believe there are better sites.
    I firmly believe that overtly planning tourist attractions to support retailers in the Mall is wrong headed.
    Consider objectively the cost benefits of recent public investment in Mega Fauna Central. If we can make genuine headway on the social and environmental challenges facing this community, we’ll create a destination attractive to tourists in the process.
    The Minister’s trite and factually incorrect comments on the quality and condition of Anzac High precinct are incredibly disrespectful to anyone who expects accountability in government.
    There are NO significant impediments to utilising the heritage buildings for myriad “contemporary” uses.
    With respect Minister, the advice you are receiving and repeating is worse than bullshit.
    We expect much better than this from our leaders.
    If this unadulterated spin is indicative of the advice now driving the secret deliberations of the NT Cabinet then heaven help us all.
    I only wish I could be as polite as Peter Hoey.

  8. Clearly? Very ironic that the minister for not answering questions would use that term. About the only clear thing about this whole scenario is that the Labour Party clearly have NFI what they are doing.

  9. An NT Government climate change update just arrived in my inbox touting a low carbon future. All talk no substance as they rush to demolish an amazing complex at Anzac.
    I was a rusted on Labor voter. Now I’ll be switching to Independent.
    It’s definitely time to give up on the major parties when each enthusiastically promotes the poor record of the other to legitimise and excuse their own tragic record in Government.

  10. Look at the pictures you mob, it’s a resort! There’s a large kitchen, meeting hall or gym, room for accommodation, studios and micro enterprises, low hanging fruit for our forward thinking leaders.
    The town could have both, community at Anzac and Art and Culture south of The Gap. It makes perfect sense.
    Why does it have to be one or the other? I know the Minister for Central Australia and I’m positive she’s capable of advancing two development projects at once.
    She might need permission from up north but. This is embarrassing – adjust the blinkers please.

  11. “Clearly, we think the Anzac Oval site is the best site for the national indigenous art gallery project,” says Minister Dale Wakefield, yet there is no answer to the question why.
    More pertinently, is the real question who was it that persuaded the NT Government that the Anzac Oval site is best for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery?
    Maybe a prominent person in local government?
    Perhaps there are more twists to this tale than has been revealed to date, and not everything is as it seems as portrayed in the media.
    The question is straight-forward and the answer is simple – yes or no?
    Secrets are whispering.

  12. 100% agree that some Town Council members want the gallery built at ANZAC. And it would be further along if others in the room had not blocked it.

  13. Wakefield: “Clearly, we think the Anzac Oval site is the best site for the national indigenous art gallery project.”
    Clearly? Your government has the clarity of a blind mole, Ms Wakefield. Traditional owners have not only said No to people climbing the Rock, but also to the location of the gallery next to Anzac oval.
    It seems some Nos are more equal than other Nos.
    With that in mind, I packed up most of my watercolour collection and send it to Adelaide where I’m sure it will be in good company with all the other Namatjira school watercolours, not to mention the dot paintings.

  14. Dear Namatjira Art Collector: I would urge you to delay sending or perhaps simply loan your collection to South Australia in the belief that maybe, just maybe, a future government of the Northern Territory might prove itself worthy of such the gallery project.
    A single art gallery to represent many language groups is not the only model.
    Who knows, maybe the arts trail being developed could include a modest facility at Hermannsburg and placing your watercolour collection within this environmental and social context would certainly value add the works and empower the people who live there.
    Such a facility could function as an annexe of a bigger Alice Springs gallery with curatorial oversight and training of locals during its establishment phase.
    If it’s not too late, please think it over.
    ALP or CLP, I know it seems Central Australia will always be short-changed by its leaders but I live in hope.
    Perhaps this is the price we must pay for living in paradise.


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